While many people believe that a cleaning is a cleaning, this actually is not the case. When someone goes for an Adult Prophy (Basic Cleaning), the goal is treatment of gingivitis, or prevention of a periodontal disease and gingivitis. Patient’s who are candidates for these procedures have relatively healthy gums that have not progressed into a diseased state. The simple act of removing plaque (bacteria and biofilm) from the top surfaces of the tooth, and slightly below the gums, will often help keep these patient’s gums in a healthy state.
A Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing), however is indicated when a patient has moved into a diseased state when it comes to the health of their gums and the tissues that hold the tooth in place. The simple removal of the plaque from the top parts of the teeth will not reduce the progression of the disease, and a more intensive cleaning is required to attempt to halt the periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the loss of attachment of the tooth to the bones and ligaments that hold the tooth into the mouth. Calculus (hardened plaque) and other irritants can cause the body to initiate an immune response that reduces the height of the bone that holds the tooth in place. With time, the tooth will start to show more if it’s root surface, become loose, and possibly need to be extracted. Loss of the bone that holds the tooth in place is nearly impossible to reverse in most cases and often times the best option is to try to maintain the remaining bone with a Deep Cleaning to remove all the the subgingival irritants (plaque and calculus below the gums) and maintain a regular schedule of treatment with proper home care and professional cleanings at regular intervals determined by your dentist. With proper patient compliance in many cases a Deep Cleaning and proper home and professional maintenance can help a patient keep their their teeth for years to come.
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