Why a Dental Deep Cleaning Might Become Necessary
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Why a Dental Deep Cleaning Might Become Necessary

12 Nov, 2015

Why a Dental Deep Cleaning Might Become Necessary

If you're not diligent about your daily brushing and flossing, the need for a dental deep cleaning can be almost inevitable. And, even if you're "doing everything right," there might come a time when your teeth need the procedure. Before we describe dental deep cleaning, however, let's mention what might cause you to need it.
Periodontitis (gum disease) is a potentially serious, progressive condition involving bacterial infection of the gums and surrounding bone. Research shows that almost a third of the population might be genetically susceptible to periodontitis, although it is often triggered by the presence of one or more circumstances. Some cannot be prevented, including hormone fluctuations experienced during pregnancy, puberty or menopause. Other triggers are preventable, however, including using tobacco and allowing plaque and tartar to build up on the teeth. The latter is the most common cause of gum disease.
Plaque is constantly being formed, and if it's not removed from the teeth it can irritate your gums and harden into tartar (also called scale or calculus). Not only is tartar much more difficult to remove, but it also releases bacterial toxins which break down the surrounding gum tissues. The gums start separating from the teeth, creating what are known as "gum pockets" beneath the gum line. If the plaque and tartar are not removed promptly, the result is infection and gum degradation.
If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, but it can also adversely affect your overall health. It has also been connected to the presence of certain cardiovascular conditions. Unfortunately, early periodontitis can easily go unnoticed until your next dental appointment. If you suspect you have gum problems, your dentist will physically evaluate your gums for the redness, puffiness and bleeding which indicate gum inflammation. A periodontal probe is then used to determine the severity of the gum condition by measuring the depth of the gaps (gum pockets) between your teeth and your gums. Pocket depths greater than three millimeters indicate periodontal disease. Tooth mobility will also be evaluated, because loose teeth strongly indicate a loss of bone support due to periodontal disease. A series of X-rays will confirm any bone loss.
Fortunately, dental deep cleaning can remove accumulated plaque and prevent the occurrence or progression of periodontitis. The procedure includes scaling and root planing, and is typically used to treat early-stage periodontal disease.
Deep Dental Cleaning Techniques
Scaling is the process by which a dental professional scrapes off the plaque and tartar that have accumulated on the surfaces of the teeth. Typically, the scraping is performed by hand, but combining manual scraping with an ultrasonic scaler can significantly speed the process when the buildup is significant.
Root planing is the second prong of deep dental cleaning. The process involves manually cleaning out the plaque from the gum pockets. After the pockets are cleaned the root surfaces of the teeth are smoothed (planned) which not only permits the gum tissue to heal, but also makes future plaque accumulation less likely. Depending on the severity of the condition, more than one treatment might be required. Root planning is somewhat more invasive than a routine prophylactic dental cleaning, but potential discomfort can be warded off by using a local anesthesia.
When used together, the two prongs of deep dental cleaning can stop the progression of mild to moderate gum disease. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to control the underlying bacterial infection. More severe cases of periodontitis may also require periodontal surgery, however.
Even after successful dental deep cleaning, you should continue to follow a good daily oral hygiene routine. Combine brushing twice a day with flossing daily in order to keep your teeth as free of plaque as possible. Dentist visits every six months are also essential to avoid the worsening or recurrence of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease may be asymptomatic in its early stages, but visit your dentist as soon as possible for dental deep cleaning if you notice any of the following symptoms:

Reddened, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, particularly while you're brushing your teeth
Gums separating from the teeth
Loose teeth
The presence of pus between the gum and a tooth
Foul or unpleasant breath
Changes in your bite
Changes in the fit of partial dentures.

Practicing good oral hygiene is extremely important, but deep dental cleaning is key to preventing the occurrence or worsening of periodontal disease.

Virginia Jacobs kindly invites you to visit this comprehensive dental care website where you will find more information about dental deep cleaning and answers to your questions about dental care and oral hygiene, as well as a free newsletter with oral health tips and advice.

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