Basic Dental Care: A Tale of Two Cleanings
by Angela Tsakanikas, RDH, Dentistry of the Carolinas
While regular dental cleanings are an important part of great oral hygiene, there are two very different cleaning procedures for very different patient types. Probably the biggest factor in determining which cleaning you will receive comes down to one simple question: How well do you care for your teeth?
Patients undoubtedly prefer prophy maintenance – an adult cleaning for healthy teeth and gums that is routinely rendered every six months. A patient is diagnosed with a healthy adult mouth when the initial exam results in minimal bleeding and the vertical tissue attachment levels (pocketing) around each tooth are no higher than three millimeters. This is achieved by consistent great care at home (regular brushing/flossing), good nutrition, regular checkups and to some extent – heredity.
Perio maintenance is required with patients who have been diagnosed with periodontal disease. Infection of the supporting structures of the teeth (gum and bone) means there is no longer a healthy adult mouth. Also present is pocketing of four millimeters or more, bleeding upon probing and sometimes exudate (oozing liquid usually due to inflammation). Periodontal disease is treated with a procedure called scaling – better known as deep cleaning. Perio maintenance typically follows scaling and is most often scheduled where the patient is seen every three to four months. A much more detailed and intense cleaning is provided upon each of these visits. The goal is to remove the most aggressive bacteria before it has opportunity to cause additional bone loss and create even deeper pockets. Research has shown that patients diagnosed with periodontal disease, who do not have regular periodontal maintenance at regular three-month intervals, lose two to three times more teeth than patients who do regular maintenance.
So while prophy maintenance may trump perio in the “things I’d want to happen to me” category, what’s most important is that you are getting the regular care and dental cleanings you need. As always, the best thing you can do is to take the time for proper care of your teeth at home. We highly recommend the daily use of dental floss, regular brushing (an electric toothbrush is often very beneficial with the maintenance of gum disease) and a good fluoride mouth rinse that is preferably alcohol free. Take care of your teeth. You only get one set, and they have to last a lifetime.
Is it time for your check-up? Don’t delay, call today.