You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.
A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention. Plaque and tartar can be difficult to completely remove with a toothbrush and floss alone. If you are brushing and flossing every day and taking any other steps recommended by your dentist, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular oral care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.
Deep cleaning, a necessity?
A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). Perhaps you try to floss daily but somehow it averages to once a week ( and that is on a good week). Then there was the time that you had to cancel your dental cleaning and never got around to making another appointment. Now it’s been three years since your last check up and you noticed your gums are sore and bleeding a little in the back. This is the start of periodontal disease.
To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to be tight and provide a healthy seals around your teeth. A standard part of your regular cleaning includes your doctor or dental hygienist checking this tissue. A measuring tool is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-3mm of depth is considered normal and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Depths of 4 mm or more is a sign that you are losing the bone around your teeth. Bleeding gums is evidence that there is “gunk” (plaque and tartar) below the gumline causing inflammation and infection around your teeth. The ‘pockets’ becomes a prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away and left on the teeth for more than 24 hours will harden and become tartar. Once the plaque hardens only your dental professional can remove it. Left unattended, the bacteria grows and the bone around the teeth disappears. When the pockets deepen they compromise the tooth. A deep cleaning to remove these bacterial deposits is needed to help you get your smile back on track. Suggestions for additional homecare protocol will also be discussed to keep periodontal disease under control.
Deep cleaning is not a scary process.
Oftentimes we will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth. This is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention. We can use anesthetic and treat smaller sections of your mouth making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A ultrasonic instrument removes plaque and tartar from the deeper root surface of your teeth. This is below the gum line and not visible but very important in treating the cause of the gum infection. Without getting to the bottom of the pocket, periodontal disease progresses and tooth loss is inevitable. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.
Periodontitis is a progressive disease and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately the treatment is typically straightforward and the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels. Your gums will heal and lose any signs of redness of bleeding. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call Stumpf Dental at 262-970-0111. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you. We would be happy to evaluate your oral health and get you back on. Remember that preventive dentistry is far less expensive than dental neglect. Take care of your teeth or they will be FALSE to you.