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Are There Different Types of Dental Cleanings?

Dentist in Washington Heights during dental cleaning

While routine dental cleanings are a familiar part of dental care, many are unaware that different types of cleanings exist to address varying oral health needs. Whether you’ve missed cleanings for years or are dealing with dental issues, it’s important to understand that dentists in Washington Heights offer a range of cleaning options. Keep reading to learn more! 

Close up Dentist in Washington Heights polishing a patient's teeth

Types of Dental Cleanings  

Prophylaxis (Routine Cleaning) 

Prophylaxis, commonly known as routine cleaning, is a preventive dental procedure aimed at maintaining optimal oral health and preventing dental issues. Its primary purpose is to remove plaque, tartar, and surface stains from the teeth, promoting a clean and healthy mouth. 

Procedure Overview 

During a prophylaxis appointment, a dental hygienist or dentist will perform a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums. The procedure typically involves two main steps: 

  • Scaling: This involves the removal of plaque and tartar buildup from the tooth surfaces, including those areas that are difficult to reach with regular brushing and flossing. Scaling is essential for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. 
  • Polishing: After scaling, the dental professional will polish the tooth surfaces to remove any remaining plaque and stains, leaving the teeth smooth and shiny. This step not only enhances the appearance of the teeth but also makes it more difficult for plaque to adhere to the tooth surfaces. 

Indications for Routine Cleanings  

Routine cleanings are recommended every six months for those with good oral hygiene habits and no significant buildup of plaque or tartar. It is especially beneficial for those who brush and floss regularly but still require professional cleaning to remove stubborn plaque and maintain optimal oral health.  

Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing) 

Deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is a therapeutic dental procedure designed to treat gum disease (periodontitis) by removing plaque and tartar from below the gumline and smoothing the roots of the teeth. The primary purpose of deep cleaning is to halt the progression of gum disease, promote healing, and prevent further damage to the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. 

Procedure Overview 

Deep cleaning consists of two main components: 

  • Scaling: During scaling, your dentist in Washington Heights uses special instruments to remove plaque and tartar deposits from the tooth surfaces, including those areas below the gumline that cannot be reached with regular brushing and flossing. This helps to eliminate bacteria and toxins that contribute to gum inflammation and disease. 
  • Root Planing: Root planing involves smoothing the rough surfaces of the tooth roots to remove bacterial toxins and promote the reattachment of the gums to the teeth. By creating a smooth surface, root planing helps to prevent bacteria from accumulating and allows the gums to heal more effectively. 

Indications for Deep Cleaning  

Deep cleaning is recommended for those with moderate to severe gum disease (periodontitis), characterized by inflammation, infection, and bone loss around the teeth.  

Common indications for deep cleaning include: 

  • Gum recession and pocket formation 
  • Bleeding gums 
  • Loose or shifting teeth 
  • Bone loss detected on dental X-rays 

Importance in Preventing Further Gum and Bone Loss 

Deep cleaning can prevent further gum and bone loss associated with periodontal disease. By removing plaque, tartar, and bacterial toxins from below the gumline and smoothing the tooth roots, deep cleaning helps to eliminate the sources of infection and inflammation, allowing the gums to heal and reducing the risk of further damage to the supporting structures of the teeth.  

Dentist in Washington Heights during cleaning

Periodontal Maintenance 

Periodontal maintenance is a dental procedure aimed at managing and monitoring the health of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth following treatment for gum disease (periodontitis). Unlike routine cleanings, periodontal maintenance places greater emphasis on ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and prevention of disease recurrence. 

Procedure Overview 

Periodontal maintenance procedures closely resemble routine cleanings but are tailored to meet the specific needs of people with a history of gum disease. The key components of periodontal maintenance include: 

  • Thorough Cleaning: Similar to prophylaxis, periodontal maintenance involves scaling to remove plaque and tartar buildup from the tooth surfaces and below the gumline. This helps to prevent the recurrence of gum disease by eliminating bacterial deposits that can lead to inflammation and infection. 
  • Monitoring and Assessment: In addition to cleaning, periodontal maintenance appointments include a comprehensive examination of the gums, teeth, and supporting structures. This allows the dental professional to monitor the health of the periodontal tissues, detect any signs of disease recurrence or progression, and intervene promptly if necessary. 

Indications for Periodontal Maintenance  

Periodontal maintenance appointments are typically scheduled at more frequent intervals than routine prophylaxis, often every 3 to 4 months. This increased frequency is necessary to closely monitor the condition of the gums. 

Common indications for periodontal maintenance include: 

  • Previous treatment for gum disease, such as scaling and root planing 
  • Presence of gum recession, pocket formation, or bone loss 
  • History of persistent gum inflammation or bleeding 
  • Increased risk factors for gum disease, such as smoking or diabetes 

Gross Debridement 

Gross debridement is a dental procedure aimed at removing heavy plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and gums, particularly when calculus obstructs the evaluation of the oral cavity. The primary purpose of gross debridement is to create a clear and unobstructed view of the teeth and surrounding tissues, allowing for an assessment of oral health and the formulation of an appropriate treatment plan. 

Procedure Overview 

Gross debridement involves the following key steps: 

  • Plaque and Tartar Removal: Using specialized instruments, such as scalers and curettes, your dentist tin Washington Heights removes heavy deposits of plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces and below the gumline. This step may require extra time and effort, particularly if the buildup is extensive. 
  • Rinsing and Evaluation: Once most of plaque and tartar is removed, the patient’s mouth is rinsed to remove debris and allow for a clear view of the teeth and surrounding tissues. The dental professional then conducts a comprehensive evaluation to assess the overall oral health.  

Indications for Gross Debridement 

Gross debridement is indicated for people with extensive plaque and tartar buildup, particularly after prolonged neglect of dental care. Common indications for gross debridement include: 

  • Heavy calculus deposits that obstruct a thorough examination of the oral cavity
  • Difficulty in assessing the extent of gum disease or other dental issues due to significant plaque and tartar. 
  • Patients who have not undergone regular dental cleanings or oral hygiene maintenance and present with visible signs of neglect, such as severe staining, gum inflammation, or bad breath. 
a Dentist in Washington Heights smiling

Are You Due for a Check-up with a Dentist in Washington Heights? 

If it’s time for a dental cleaning look no further than Perfect Smile Doc! Our expert team offers comprehensive dental cleaning services tailored to your unique needs. Schedule an appointment today

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