You might think that dental checkups are always the same. While both regular cleanings and periodontal maintenance are performed on a routine schedule, they differ in that one is a preventative measure, and the other is a treatment.
Professional dental cleanings are an essential component of preventing gum disease, but there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Different patients may require different cleaning procedures, depending on the state of their oral health.
Regular Cleanings: For Patients with Good Oral Health
Brushing and flossing twice a day is crucial, but even if you practice excellent oral hygiene, plaque buildup is still inevitable. If it’s not removed regularly, it can eventually harden into unsightly tartar, or cause gum infections. For patients with healthy teeth and gums, regular teeth cleanings – or prophylaxis – is sufficient to remove plaque and prevent inflammation.
A routine dental cleaning is known as prophylaxis, a term applied to preventative care measures. During a regular teeth cleaning, a dental hygienist scales and polishes a patient’s teeth in order to remove all visible tartar built up above the gum line. A regular teeth cleaning is prescribed when a patient’s gums are healthy and closely attached to teeth. Regular cleanings, usually recommended once or twice per year, help prevent extensive oral health problems from developing, namely periodontal disease.
Periodontal Maintenance(Deep Cleaning): For Patients with Periodontal Disease
For almost half of the dental patients in the United States have some form of periodontal disease, a gum infection that can damage the tissue and bone that supports your teeth. The mildest form of gum disease is gingivitis, which causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, resulting in severe deterioration of the gums and bone, and with time, tooth loss.
Similar to a regular teeth cleaning, periodontal maintenance removes tartar buildup from the teeth. Unlike a normal, preventative cleaning, periodontal maintenance is a treatment prescribed to combat periodontal disease. It involves both scaling and root planing, meaning tartar must be removed from deep between the teeth and gums.
During a periodontal maintenance appointment, the hygienist will remove tartar build up from in between your teeth and gums down the entire length of each tooth, stopping where the gum, root and bone meet. Your hygienist will carefully monitor the depth of each pocket in your gums and irrigate these pockets with antiseptic medications, if inflammation or infection are present.
Periodontal maintenance appointments only occur after a patient has been diagnosed with periodontal disease and treated for periodontal scaling and root planing. These types of cleanings are usually recommended every three to four months in order to maintain gum health and eradicate the dangerous bacterial growth that occurs with periodontal disease.
During scaling, our Beaufort dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth, both above and below your gumline, using handheld instruments, ultrasonic instruments, or a combination of both. Once your teeth are cleaned via scaling, the dental practitioner will then perform root planing to smooth out the roots of your teeth. This two-step process creates a better environment for your gums to reattach back to your teeth, effectively closing any loose pockets.
To ensure optimal oral health, and preserve the integrity of your teeth and gums, patients should visit the dentist every three months for periodontal maintenance. However, the exact intervals may vary depending on the precise condition of your gums.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is an excessive bacterial build up, which occurs between the teeth and gums. Periodontal disease affects roughly three out of four patients and occurs when tartar accumulates more than four millimeters below the gum line, creating pockets between the teeth and gums, where bacteria thrive. Left unattended, periodontal disease can lead to inflammation, infection, bone loss and systemic health problems (diabetes and heart disease). When diagnosed with periodontal disease, patients will require special teeth cleanings.
Let Us Help Keep Your Teeth in Good Health
Allowing us to keeping gum disease in-check for our patients makes life easier, enabling everyone to maintain a healthy smile in the same dentist office. We offer appointments starting at 7:00 am and also have after school hours to meet your scheduling needs. We welcome you to our convenient office which is conveniently located on the corner of Sea Island Pkwy & Lady’s Island Dr.. To schedule an appointment contact us at (843) 986-0177 or feel free to use our online appointment form.