What is involved in a cleaning?
A dental prophylaxis, also called a teeth cleaning involves removing any plaque or tartar off of the teeth and gum areas, flossing the teeth, and polishing the teeth. X-rays, a dental exam, a gum exam, and oral hygiene instruction often accompany these appointments.
What is a deep cleaning?
A deep cleaning is also known as a scaling and root planing. This procedure involves removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and extending into the areas between the teeth and gums also known as pockets at the roots of the tooth. If plaque and tartar is left in the area, the gums will get puffy and red (inflamed) and begin to peel away from the tooth which leads to bleeding gums, bone loss, and eventual loss of the tooth.
What is the hygienist doing with that little ruler in my mouth?
The little ruler is also called a dental probe. It is placed between the tooth and the gum tissue to measure how deep the attachment of the gum to the tooth is. The deeper the pocket, the more plaque and tartar can collect in the area. It is recommended that this examination be done at least once each year. Normal healthy teeth will measure 3 mm or less. When pockets measure 5 mm or deeper, it is often indicated to have a deep cleaning.
How often should I get a cleaning?
It is recommended that most patients have their teeth cleaned at least once every six months. Many patients get their teeth cleaned a few times per year, quarterly, or even more often. The frequency of cleanings is often determined by assessing the level of plaque and tartar in the mouth and in accordance with patient desires.