Did you know that there isn’t just a single type of professional dental cleaning? That’s because a healthy mouth will require a different cleaning than one with gum disease. Since there are two gum diseases, that means there are three basic types of cleaning in all.

What is considered a Normal Dental Cleaning?

Known as a prophylaxis, the most common dental cleaning is basically preventative. Healthy doesn’t mean perfect, and it can still mean hidden cavities and other problems. The dental hygienist will assess your mouth to determine whether a normal cleaning or an advanced cleaning is necessary.

If your mouth is relatively healthy, the hygienist will see coral pink gums or slightly darker color, depending on your ethnicity. There should be no dark triangles visible between the teeth, and gum tissue should cover the spaces between the teeth.

A metal probe will check the pockets around the teeth. This is to ensure that the gums are meeting the tooth enamel properly. There can’t be much space there, just 3 millimeters or less.

Cleaning will remove bacterial plaque, the sticky furry substance that can form on teeth. Even regular brushing and flossing can’t get all of it.

What are Advanced Dental Cleanings?

A gross debridement is the name given to a more advanced cleaning due to gingivitis. This involves the removal of plaque and calculus. There will be a certain amount of gum inflammation that will have to settle down before further treatment can be achieved.

If the hygienist identifies gum problems, this will change how the cleaning may be done. The gum color may be red or purple. Tissue may be puffy or swollen. It may bleed easily. Unlike a healthy mouth, the gums are smooth and shiny.

Calculus on the teeth that will require special instruments to remove. This plaque forms on teeth areas that have been missed by brushing or flossing. The most common areas on the upper molars are along the cheek. On the lower front teeth, the most common areas are on the tongue side.

The length of your dental cleaning will be affected by how many areas have a problem. The hygienist must be careful to protect your gums while attacking the calculus that needs to be removed.
After a gross debridement, a scale and polish is often required. This fine tuning is done to help prevent further gingivitis and related problems.

Dental CleaningsWhat are Periodontal Disease Dental Cleanings?

In some periodontal cases, the gross debridement followed by a scale and polish will be recommended. However, the patient may need to do this every three months to prevent tooth loss.

Your hygienist and dentist may recommend root planing. During root planing, the dentist will add antibiotic gels to combat the disease.

Periodontal disease was until recently considered an extension of gingivitis. Unfortunately, this is not the case. They are two separate diseases. Periodontal disease is an immune disorder. As such, it triggers the immune system to attack your bone.

Whereas gingivitis often shows itself by making the gums bleed, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss without many symptoms. That’s why the hygienist and dentist need a full mouth series of X-rays. It’s also why they use individual tooth probing. There can be one problem area or the whole mouth.

Advanced periodontal disease does have some warning signs. Loose teeth or teeth that fall out are a sign. Other signs include pus exuding from the gums and/or severe bad breath. This treatable disease is not curable. Thus regular dental cleanings are vital to maintaining your healthy teeth for as long as possible.

What cleaning is right for your teeth? Your dentist and hygienist will consult your X-rays and probably probe your mouth before deciding. Please share any concerns with them before your dental cleaning.