The goal of every dental cleaning is to remove plaque, prevent decay and gum disease, and ensure optimal oral health. The type of recommended cleaning can be different depending on patient diagnosis and genetic predisposition. The following will explain the difference between the two types of cleanings recommended in a periodontal and general dental practice.
What is a dental cleaning?
A Prophylaxis / Regular dental cleaning (ADA Ins code d1110) is a preventative measure and part of the overall dental checkup recommended every 6 months and essential to maintaining a healthy smile. This dental cleaning focuses on removing plaque, flossing, and polishing of each tooth. Stain and hard deposits can build up on your teeth and form tartar (calculus), which can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. While you should strive to keep tartar from building up by regular brushing and flossing, there are some deposits that are stubborn and need more attention. Tartar that is not removed from prophylaxis can build up under the gum line, which leads to periodontal disease and can result in tooth and bone loss. A regular dental cleaning is recommended for all patients who do not have periodontal disease.
A different kind of dental cleaning:
A Periodontal Maintenance (ADA Ins code d4910)
If you have been diagnosed/treated for periodontal (gum) disease with scaling and root planing, tooth extractions, periodontal surgery or dental implants it is essential that a periodontal maintenance/cleaning be scheduled every 3 months as part of your comprehensive treatment. The American Academy of Periodontology 2018 cautioned that once you have had periodontal disease there is always a risk of recurrence. A periodontal maintenance is a cleaning that is deeper than a normal cleaning because periodontal pockets have formed due to bone loss and gum changes. Pockets are vertical spaces between the teeth and gums where plaque and tartar build up. This meticulous cleaning process is crucial to maintain gum and bone health. It takes about 90 days (3 months) for periodontal bacteria and plaque to re-colonize pockets, which is why we recommend periodontal maintenance cleanings every 3 months
If bacteria are allowed to build up in your mouth, it can lead to inflammation, infection, and can negatively affect other health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimers.
So which cleaning is right for you?
- Ask your dentist or periodontist how many dental cleanings you need a year based upon your diagnosis. If you are a healthy patient then a prophylaxis/regular dental cleaning is appropriate 2 times a year. However, if you build up tartar and plaque easily you may need more regular cleanings sometimes 3-4 times a year. If you have been diagnosed with chronic inflammation around your gums (periodontitis) than you should have a visit with a periodontist. Your Dentist will know how you are doing since they see you for an exam at your cleanings…so ask her/him if you need to see a periodontist for a comprehensive exam.
- A Periodontal exam will help us determine if you have inflammation, bleeding gums, recession, bone loss, excess buildup of tartar and plaque and whether a regular cleaning or periodontal maintenance is right for you. Once we have the appropriate information from the exam we will communicate with your General Dentist so your cleaning intervals can be tailored to your needs. Typically if you have been diagnosed with periodontitis you will need 3-4 cleanings a year alternating between your General Dentist office and the Periodontal office.
- Every patient in our practice is ensured comfort during the periodontal maintenance/cleaning procedure with our gentle approach and different anesthetic options. If you are feeling sensitive during a cleaning you can ask for topical anesthetic or novocaine for your comfort. All our hygienists have a local anesthetic license and have for many years.
- No matter what kind of cleaning you need, rest assured you will receive the highest-quality care at Perio Health Partners. We are all about restoring wellness.
We are an experienced team of dental health experts who will have you looking, and feeling, great about your oral and general health. For more information on this subject and other information regarding gum disease and dental implants go to the American Academy of Periodontology website at www.perio.org.