Did you know that you have thousands of naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth that love to live on the surface of your teeth and share the same food you eat? Gross, isn’t it? The good news is that excess bacteria can be removed from your teeth through regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings.

To prevent bacteria populations from growing and causing dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease, the American Dental Association advises individuals to visit their local dental practice once every six months for a dental exam and cleaning.

Depending on the amount of plaque and tartar on your teeth, your dentist will perform one of the following  types of dental cleanings:


Prophylaxis Dental Cleaning

The word prophylaxis means “to prevent disease”. Therefore, prophylaxis dental cleanings are used to clean healthy teeth in order to prevent them from becoming affected by tooth decay or gum disease. Prophylaxis cleanings remove plaque and tartar from the front, back, and sides of teeth using a dental scaler or water stream. Most dental patients only require a prophylaxis cleaning, especially if they have kept up on daily dental hygiene and semi-annual dental appointments. 


Scaling and Root Planing Cleaning

Scaling and root planing cleanings, also known as deep cleanings, are used to both the teeth and gum pockets in order to treat gingivitis and periodontitis. Deep cleanings for gingivitis are usually completed in a single dental appointment. Deep cleanings for periodontitis, on the other hand, may require multiple appointments and local anesthetics depending on the severity. Scaling is the process that removes plaque and tartar from the tooth’s surface and in the gum pockets below the gum line that form as a result of gum disease. Not only does this remove bacteria, but it also helps to reduce gum inflammation. Root planing is the process of smoothing the tooth roots, which helps the gums reattach to teeth and eliminate gum pockets. 


Periodontal Maintenance Cleaning: 

Periodontal maintenance cleanings are also dental cleanings designed to treat gum disease. Like scaling and root planing, they remove excess plaque and tartar from the tooth surface and gum pockets, then smooth out the roots if needed. The main thing that sets periodontal maintenance cleanings apart is that they are usually performed more often than other types of dental cleanings. This is because gum disease is progressive and will continue to get worse if not effectively treated. 

As you can see, there are different types of dental cleanings that your dentist may choose to use depending on what they find during your dental exam. While all of these cleanings have the same basic premise, they each offer a slightly different approach based on certain situations.

The friendly staff at Birmingham Dental would be very happy to answer any questions on your routine cleaning needs.