Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss? Does your breath smell? Then you a need “cleaning.” Not all cleanings are created equal. The types of cleaning you receive is based on the presence of active disease, neglect and past destruction to bones and gums.
You also may not know, that some people require more frequent cleanings. Cleanings can be done at three, four or six-month intervals based on an individual’s needs. There are many reasons you may need more frequent cleanings. You may have certain medical conditions that affect your oral health like diabetes or dry mouth (among other aliments), you may smoke or chew tobacco, you may be in braces or have poor oral hygiene, and you may have periodontal disease, hardened on plaque (also known as calculus) that is under the gum tissue or gingivitis.
A prophylaxis is the technical term for a “regular cleaning.” This type of regular cleaning removes plaque, external stains and calculus from the portion of the tooth you see. This cleaning is for those patients who have good oral health with no/minimal bone loss and healthy gums or those patients with gingivitis. Gingivitis is characterized by inflammation of the gums but does not result in bone loss.
You may have heard the term “deep cleaning.” A deep cleaning is known as scaling and root planning (SRP) to dental professionals. Deep cleanings remove calculus, bacteria and other toxic deposits from the root of the tooth, under the gums down to where the gum and bone meet. If you require a deep cleaning, then you have some form of bone loss and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a pain free process and most patients who have periodontal disease never know it. Dental professionals help to evaluate and help treat periodontal disease. Deep cleanings help to avoid premature tooth loss and is pivotal in controlling periodontal disease. Bleeding gums, bad breath, red gums, swollen gums and gum recession may be a result of periodontal disease.
You may also need a debridement. This type of cleaning is usually completed prior to any regular cleaning or deep cleaning when hardened on plaque (calculus) is so tenacious that a dentist/hygienist cannot collect accurate data to determine what condition your oral health is in. Additional appointments may be needed to completely get rid of the hard deposits on your teeth. These hard deposits need to be removed at regular intervals or they can cause bone loss, spreading of teeth, wiggly teeth, infection and premature tooth loss.
At Fede Family & Cosmetic Dentistry we are committed to helping you improve your oral health and keep your teeth for a lifetime. We try to educate you on different oral disease processes and give you the tools you need to combat these diseases.
WHY YOU’RE GETTING CAVITIES OR DECAY
Teeth, bacteria and food/drink are the only things you need to get cavities. There are certain factors that will increase your susceptibility to cavities. Factors like dry mouth, medications, poor oral hygiene, frequent snacking or sipping, diet and certain medical conditions are just a few that can lead to the breakdown of tooth structure.
These factors provide an environment that allow bacteria to thrive. Bacteria attaches to the tooth and produces acid. This acid causes tooth structure to breakdown and ultimately causes cavities.
Root surfaces are more prone to decay due to the absence of enamel. They are more porous (for lack of a better word) and are normally covered by bone and gums. Root exposure increases the likelihood of cavities and meticulous oral hygiene is a must.
Cavity formation can be a fast process depending on certain habits and factors. Radiographs (x-rays) help detect cavities as early as possible. Without routine x-rays, cavities can become extensive and most people will not have any symptoms until it is too late. Lack of pain is not a good indication of healthy teeth. In many cases, the extent of decay can cause the tooth to need substantial work to “fix” the tooth or even render it unsalvageable by the time symptoms develop.
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Bleeding gums, bad breath, red gums, swollen gums and gum recession may be a result of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can be managed but not cured. Every patient is different in terms of severity and frequency of periodontal disease. You may have a mild, moderate or severe form and it can be located around every tooth in the mouth or localized to specific teeth. If you receive a deep cleaning, you will no longer receive prophylaxis “regular” cleanings. You will receive a periodontal maintenance cleaning. Periodontal maintenance cleanings address the crown of the tooth (the portion of the tooth you can see in the mouth), roots (the portion of the tooth beneath the gums), gums and bones. The time interval between cleanings will be determined by dental professionals based on the condition of your oral health.
Typically, a dental hygienist provides the different types of cleanings. If there is minimal improvement or additional treatments are needed to help increase your oral health, you will be referred to a specialist called a Periodontist. Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the foundation of teeth, bones and gums.