On a recent trip back to visit family I encountered my kooky Great Aunt, let’s just call her Ivy. Ivy is an all-round entertaining lady. She could keep you talking for hours and comes up with some of the most ridiculous things. Upon telling her that I work for a dentist she blurts out, “You don’t work for 1-800-Dentist, do you!?”
Well, no, we are not affiliated with them but I was curious what caused her outburst. Upon further examination she said that recently her and her husband went to the dentist and “would you buh-lieve they wanted $250 for a cleaning, per quadrant!?” I don’t need to tell you the conversation that ensued that ended in Aunt Ivy refuting everything I said with, “I DON’T GET PLAQUE ON MY TEETH!” An odd statement considering that every single person on the planet has plaque on their teeth. Oh, Aunt Ivy.
When plaque gets under the gums where you can’t see it and can’t clean it you start to get irritation and bleeding in your gums. This is the early stages of gingivitis. When you have gingivitis your hygienist will want to give you a deep cleaning. They might also want you to use a wash called Chlorohexidine. Three out of four adults have some form of gum disease.
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Your body is working feverishly to clean your teeth and the interaction between the food and the saliva creates bacteria and acid. If nothing is done about this it can begin to erode your bone structure. The acid begins to drip down your teeth and starts to eat away at the bone that is holding on to your teeth. Acid. Pretty nasty stuff. It eats through everything, including bone.
Here’s the tricky part, until someone’s condition get very bad they have virtually no symptoms. If gum disease is caught in time it can be stopped and steps can be taken to improve your condition. But, sadly, bone loss is irreversible.
In addition to keeping your teeth from falling out, or getting loose, a deep cleaning will help permanent crowns and bridges adhere to your teeth and last longer. It might help take care of that bad breath, too.
A deep cleaning will take approximately three hours where as a regular cleaning without x-rays will only take about 50 minutes. You are numbed with anesthetic and the hygienist cleans off the roots of the tooth.
I know what you are thinking. You brush your teeth every day, you’ve never had a cavity, you floss every now and then and maybe you even believe that you don’t get plaque on your teeth. Good for you! But that doesn’t mean you can skip your regular teeth cleanings every six months. Hygienists have special tools that get heavy plaque off of your teeth. They also have the ability to see and reach things that you cannot.
Real Gateway Dental patient who received a deep cleaning. The patient was experiencing bleeding when brushing and flossing and had deep pockets of 5-6 millimeters (1-3 millimeters is great, anything more than 4 should require immediate attention).
The biggest mistake a patient can make is to not maintain a good hygiene program with the hygienist following the deep cleaning. After the cleaning your hygienist will want to see you three months later to clean the teeth again. More often than not it isn’t covered by insurance which is why many patients do not keep up on it. But, coming back every three months for a year will restore your gums to their better condition, will close the deep pockets created by the bacteria, and will help reduce the amount of bacteria that can get in there again.
If you were told you needed a deep cleaning, do not wait. Aunt Ivy will be sorry.
You can call 916-649-0249 if you have more questions and we’ll be happy to help you.