Dr. David's

Pearls of Wisdom

Regular dental cleanings are a common recommendation to help prevent gum/periodontal disease and cavities.  Though many people understand that they are supposed to go to the dentist “regularly” for cleanings, many people are unsure as to why, how often or even what kind of cleaning is right for their dental health.

At Dentistry by Dr. David, we thoroughly check our patients gum tissue and teeth and take into consideration, medications, lifestyle and health conditions when determining the frequency and type of hygiene appointments a patient receives.  Dental cleanings should be prescribed based on person’s individual oral condition.  The health of a patient’s mouth determines how often they need to come in for cleanings and what kind of cleaning is appropriate for the condition of their mouth. 

Standard Recommendation:

To maintain HEALTHY gums, teeth and supporting bone, a regular prophylaxis, or “prophy”, is usually recommended about every 6 months.   A prophy is when the hygienist cleans bacterial deposit from ABOVE the gum line, or slightly below the gum line.  If a patient has gingival inflammation or periodontal pocketing, a standard prophy many no longer be the appropriate treatment to prevent the progression of dental and periodontal disease.

If a patient has a lot of deposit on their teeth or bleeds a lot during a cleaning (a sign of gum disease) but does not show signs of bone loss, the hygienist may recommend the patient come in more often than 6 months.  This will allow the patient to remove the deposit more often to help slow down the inflammation process that causes periodontal disease.

Scaling and Root Planing:

Scaling and root planning (“deep cleaning”, SRP) is a non-surgical periodontal therapy that becomes necessary when a patient presents with deterioration in the attachment of the gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth.  This deterioration is caused by bacterial deposits that sit below the gum tissue.  As bone and tissue attachments are lost, “pockets” form around the teeth.  These pockets are measured routinely with a probe to monitor the stability of the patient’s oral health.    Pockets over 3mm are an indicator of periodontitis, an irreversible condition.  Scaling is performed with local anesthetic to ensure the patient’s comfort.  Once the patient is numb, the hygienist cam then remove bacterial deposits and dead tissue from inside the pockets and smooth the root surfaces of the teeth so that healing is possible.  Though periodontitis is incurable, it can be stabilized. 

Periodontal Maintenance:  After scaling and root planning, periodontal maintenance cleanings are necessary to keep periodontal pockets clean and stabilize periodontal disease.   It is difficult, if not impossible for patients to clean pockets over 4mm.  In order to prevent more periodontal procedures, it is recommended that a patient come in every 3-4 months so that the hygienist can not only clean the teeth above the gum line, but also clean those deeper pockets that are a little trickier to access.

It is best that your dental cleaning meets your specific needs to ensure good dental health.  If you have questions about your hygiene appointments and what is best for you and your health, have a discussion with your dentist or your hygienist about what type of dental cleaning is right for you.