Spring Cleaning!

Author: Dr. Alison V. Berger, DMD, FAGD

Yay, spring is here! All beautiful flowers around and trees getting their green back. Perfect time to get your garden going and deep clean the house. Talking about deep clean, and as Dr. Dickerhoff recognized our hygienists last week, we just celebrated them and their importance as our co-therapists. 

What did I mean with a deep cleaning?  Well, our mouths are full of bacteria, and unfortunately, some of those are more aggressive and promote inflammation of the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth, known as periodontal disease.  Some patients do have the presence of these mean bugs, and when we see the signs of tissue destruction, then we will recommend a more profound cleaning called scaling and root planing.  In the presence of inflammation (pain, redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums), plaque removal is not going to be ideal.  This in turn, promotes more plaque accumulation that will start to calcify all around the teeth, specially under the gums, making it impossible for the patient to remove at home. This cycle can and will continue, unless we clean it out through scaling and root planing. Your dental hygienist is trained to go under the gum tissue, where all this calculus (calcified dental plaque) is hiding and causing inflammation. And of course, I’ll get you numb for it!

Some people refer to this procedure as a “deep cleaning”. But it is more than just cleaning. Hygienists use an ultrasonic scaler to loosen and break up the calculus under your gums. Then, using hand instruments, they smooth the root surface making it more difficult for plaque to adhere to the tooth, and also to mechanically remove the affected tissue, so new gum attachment can form. So, let’s get cleaned!