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What types of cleanings are out there:

Prophy is a regular, least invasive dental cleaning, where the patient has healthy gums and no calculus build-up.

Second is scaling in the presence of gingivitis or gingivitis cleaning, and it’s done when the patient’s gums are inflamed and have mild plaque and calculus build-up.

Third is scaling and root planing, also called deep cleaning, and is done when the patient has bone loss and periodontal disease.

Lastly, periodontal maintenance. It is a type of cleaning that is done if the patient had deep cleaning history.

What is the difference between a prophy, gingivitis cleaning, and Scaling and root planing?

Dental prophylaxis, commonly called a “prophy,” is a treatment that involves polishing coronal part of the tooth and slightly beneath the gum line. This type of visit does not take long, about 20-30 minutes, and is often completely covered by dental insurance. We recommend getting it done twice a year.

“Gingivitis” cleaning is performed when there is substantial irritation of the gums but there is no bone loss around the teeth yet. It takes around 30-40 minutes to complete and might need local anesthesia. If everything looks good after the initial appointment, gingivitis cleaning is followed by regular prophy twice a year.

The last one is called scaling and root planing or simply “deep cleaning”, is performed when the bacteria and plaque are deep beneath the gum. It causes bone loss and substantial irritation of the gums and creates periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a constant low-grade infection in your mouth and can potentially cause significant health problems not only in your mouth but in the body in general. Deep cleaning requires local anesthesia and might need multiple appointments. Usually, this kind of cleaning will have the highest cost for the patient. If everything looks good after the initial deep cleaning, patients are placed on the periodontal maintenance type of cleaning, and it is normally done every 3-4 months.

How do we know what type of cleaning you need?

Your dentist will typically take X-rays and complete periodontal charting during your visit. Periodontal charting involves using a measurement instrument, called a probe, to check the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. After this is done, the dentist will combine the results of X-rays, a clinical exam, and periodontal charting to determine the best type of cleaning for your needs.

Why is it important to get the correct cleaning done?

Many patients have asked me, “Do I really need to get a deep cleaning? Can I just get a basic cleaning?” It is important to do a proper cleaning to ensure the effective removal of plaque and tartar, as these buildups contribute to various oral health issues if left untreated. It could result in more significant bone loss and the potential for an active infection in your body. Neglecting these issues may eventually lead to a point where the affected teeth might need to be removed.

This leads us to our last point: What are the healthy oral hygiene habits that you can do?

A healthy mouth is all about healthy choices. Make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet and limit added sugar intake.

Clean between your teeth daily using dental floss and brush twice a day, preferably with fluoride toothpaste.

Visit your dentist for routine check-ups and professional cleanings on a regular basis.