The Different Types of Dental Cleanings, Explained

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Types of Dental Cleanings

Shiny white teeth are clean and healthy teeth with the help of frequent dental cleanings.

Unfortunately, simply being blessed with perfect teeth isn’t remotely enough for them to stay that way. With our sugar-laden foods and drinks, it’s a wonder all of our teeth haven’t already fallen off. This is where the different types of dental cleanings come in handy.

Keeping in mind that nine out of ten people are born with misaligned or maloccluded teeth. So, one way or another, you need to put your behind in the dentist’s chair and get your teeth looked at.

If you’re unfamiliar with the world of different types of dental cleanings and which one might be the best option for you, no worries. We’ve got you covered.

Keep on reading to learn all about the main types of dental cleaning procedures. And, why it’s such an important step for your dental hygiene and overall health.

Routine Dental Cleanings: Why Even Bother?

Before we start our deep dive into the different cleaning options available to you, let’s make sure you have a solid foundation on why this is so important in the first place.

In the simplest of terms, think about your mouth as a battlefield. It’s the space where your oral bacteria is always looking for an opportunity to cause some damage.

One form of those bacteria is this thin, transparent film that loves to cover your gums and teeth. It’s called plaque.

This unpleasant and sticky substance eats away at your enamel, which is the hard outer layer of your teeth. It’s the main driving force behind the creation of cavities.

When you ignore your bi-annual dental cleaning appointments, this plaque accumulates into a hard material called calculus or tartar. Having tartar hanging around your teeth and gums can easily lead to gum disease.

So make sure you set up your appointment with dental associates as soon as possible and save yourself from (literal) toothaches.

Isn’t Brushing and Flossing Enough?

You can have an Olympic medal for your brushing and flossing skills. Yet, you won’t be able to remove tartar yourself.

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Sure, brushing and flossing your teeth is essential to maintaining your oral health. However, they’re not powerful enough to remove the accumulated tartar from your teeth.

The Types of Dental Cleanings 101

Now that you understand why going in for a dental cleaning session is non-negotiable, it’s time to explore the four main options you have.

We’ll start with the most basic and gentle of dental cleanings, and make our way to the nuclear cleaning option.

Prophylaxis Dental Cleaning

This gentle form of dental cleaning is meant for regular, preventative maintenance of your teeth and gums.

After all, the word prophylaxis actually means “to prevent disease.” If you’ve been a gold-star patient and didn’t miss a single dental appointment, it’s most likely for your dentist to perform this type of dental cleaning for your case.

A prophylaxis cleaning is performed to remove any plaque or tartar from all sides of your teeth. Traditionally, your dentist will be using a water stream or a dental scaler for this process.

Scaling and Root Planing Dental Cleanings

Going up a level when it comes to the cleaning intensity will bring you scaling and root planing cleanings, also known as deep cleanings.

This type of cleaning aims for treating both your teeth and gums, especially if you’re already suffering from periodontitis or gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the mild to moderate irritation and inflammation of your gums. While periodontitis is the severe version of gingivitis, and it can lead to a plethora of health complications and even tooth loss.

When it comes to deep cleaning, one session tends to be enough if you’re dealing with gingivitis. On the other hand, you might need a couple of cleaning sessions and the help of some local anesthetics if you’re dealing with periodontitis.

Furthermore, when it comes to scaling, it’s the process of removing the tartar and plaque from your teeth, as well as the gum pockets. Those are deeper below your gum line, and they tend to form due to your gum inflammation.

The overall process aims to remove oral bacteria as well as reduce the causes of gum inflammation.

If you’re dealing with a severe case of periodontitis, root planning is a great way to smooth out your tooth roots, which helps your gums to properly reattach to your teeth. This way, you’re preventing the creation of any gum pockets, and the possibility of reinfection filling them back up.

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Periodontal Maintenance Cleaning

You can consider this type of dental cleaning to be a more powerful spin-off from the deep cleanings we’ve talked about.

Generally speaking, periodontal maintenance cleanings are also aimed at treating gum disease.

Just like the scaling and root planning cleaning, they also remove tartar and excess plaque from your teeth and gum pockets. Followed by smoothing out the roots, if needed.

The key difference between the two cleaning procedures is that you’ll find that periodontal maintenance cleanings tend to follow your regular deep cleaning sessions.

They are generally performed way more often than any other type of dental cleanings. Due to the progressive nature of gum diseases, this type of dental cleaning is seen as a must for folks who are dealing with any form of gum issue.

Gross Debridement Cleaning

Remember us mentioning the nuclear option for deep teeth cleaning? This is it.

Gross debridement cleanings are considered to be the most heavy-duty procedure aimed to clean teeth that are drowning in tartar and plaque.

You’ll find that dentists and orthodontists only breakout this option for people who have avoided the dentist for huge chunks of time or aren’t able to follow a solid oral care routine.

Since the big amount of tartar has hardened like cement, your dentist will be using an electrical tool to break through the tartar shell and loosen it up.

Once the layers of tartar have been removed, you can expect the process to continue in the same vein as a prophylaxis cleaning for the final wrap-up.

Ready to Give Your Teeth a Helping Hand?

We know that if you’re setting up the first dental cleaning appointment for you or the kids, you’re probably dealing with high levels of stress and feeling overwhelmed.

Hopefully, our guide has shed some light on the different types of dental cleanings, so that you can chat with your dentist about the procedure from a place of knowledge.

If you liked this article, make sure to check out more tips and advice on our health section.