What happens at a dental cleaning?

At a dental cleaning, a registered dental hygienist Karl Dixon or Isabell Cevan will gently clean your teeth using dental tools that are more effective than a toothbrush and floss. Even if you brush and floss properly, plaque buildup remains behind. In only a day or two, plaque hardens into tartar, an insoluble substance that can only be removed by professional dental cleanings. Our dental hygienists will clean your teeth—including hard-to-reach –areas—with expert precision. The goal of a dental cleaning is to remove tartar and plaque buildup that can cause gum disease and bad breath, called halitosis.

In addition to performing a dental cleaning, your hygiene appointment will include measuring the depth of periodontal pockets to determine whether you may have gum disease. The hygienist can also demonstrate proper techniques for brushing, flossing, and using a tongue scraper. If you have questions about herbal homecare products, ask the hygienist for recommendations.

What are periodontal pockets?

Located at the base of teeth, periodontal pockets are gaps between teeth and gums. They form when bacteria break down the connective tissues that hold gums to teeth. Healthy gum tissue does not have periodontal pockets. A periodontal pocket with a depth of 3mm+ can indicate the presence of gum disease. If pocket depth increases from one visit to the next, gum disease is advancing. If pocket depth decreases, connective tissues are rejoining to teeth, which indicate an improvement in gum health.

Why is plaque buildup harmful to my oral and overall health?

One of the most common dental conditions is gum disease, and plaque is the primary cause. Plaque is a mixture of bacterial waste and bad bacteria. It is a milky or yellowish substance that sticks to teeth and can build up at the gum line. Over time, plaque calcifies into a hard substance called tartar or calculus. This hardened plaque irritates gum tissue and contributes to infection, known as gum disease. Also called periodontal disease, gum disease increases the risk for many systemic health problems, such as  heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, and dementia. Gum disease can also destroy gum and bone tissue, and for this reason, it is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States.

Let our experienced dental hygienists give you peace of mind and mouth with regular dental cleanings. They are prepared to answer your questions about gum disease and demonstrate techniques to keep plaque at bay.

What happens if I already have gum disease?

If you have gum disease, you need to see Dr. Lewis Gross for treatment. While gum disease is not curable, the symptoms are treatable. Dr. Gross may recommend a deep cleaning, which involves scaling and root planning or Laser Decontamination, a new painless technique. A deep cleaning removes tartar from below the gum line and eliminates rough spots where plaque accumulates on teeth roots. With Laser Decontamination, bacteria are sterilized so the gums can heal and reattach to teeth.

Periodontal disease can progress from gingivitis (the early stage) to severe periodontitis. Visit Dr. Gross as soon as signs of gum disease appear. You may notice bleeding, inflamed, or sensitive gums – but sometimes no symptoms are present. If your periodontal disease is already in advanced stages, it is not too late to see Dr. Gross for treatment.

Of course, you should brush twice and floss once a day to reduce your risk for gum disease. Brush your teeth a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently floss between teeth and gums, and clean bacteria from your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper.  Dr. Gross or our dental hygienist can give you more advice about oral health care at home and how to deter gum disease, non-invasively.