Periodontal disease is treated with dental cleanings in which disease-causing plaque and calculus are thoroughly removed from around the teeth and gums. After treatment is complete, gum health is preserved with regular intervals of maintenance cleanings. The types of treatment and maintenance cleaning depend on the type of gum disease. Gingivitis is treated and followed up with basic cleanings called prophylaxis cleanings. Periodontitis is treated with advanced cleanings called periodontal scaling and root planing (SRP) and followed up with periodontal maintenance cleanings to preserve gum health. In healthy patients who do not have gum disease, prophylaxis cleanings are regularly performed to maintain gum health. All of these dental cleanings are performed by our Registered Dental Hygienists.
Prophylaxis (Basic Cleaning)
For those with healthy gums or gingivitis (reversible early stage gum disease), prophylaxis cleanings are recommended. These basic cleanings involve the removal of plaque and calculus from exposed tooth surfaces.
The process of removing plaque and calculus from the tooth surface using dental instruments is called scaling. Our dental hygienists use a combination of hand scaling (the use of manual scaling instruments) and ultrasonic scaling (the use of a scaling tool which gently vibrates and irrigates) to thoroughly remove plaque and calculus. This process is typically very comfortable for patients and does not require the use of local anesthetic (numbing). At the end of the cleaning, the teeth are polished with flavored pumice. Polishing the teeth removes any residual plaque and stains (from things like coffee, tea, and wine) and leaves the teeth looking shiny and feeling smooth.
Periodontal Scaling & Root Planing (Advanced Cleaning)
For those diagnosed with periodontitis (irreversible gum disease that has advanced past gingivitis), periodontal scaling and root planing (SRP) is recommended. This type of cleaning is also sometimes referred to as a deep cleaning.
While scaling is the process of removing plaque and calculus from the tooth surface, root planing is the process of removing them from the root while smoothing the root surface. During SRP, our dental hygienists use a combination of hand scaling and ultrasonic scaling. Since this involves cleaning underneath the gumline, our hygienists recommend using local anesthetic (numbing) which helps our patients remain comfortable. In some cases, your hygienist might irrigate the gums pockets with different solutions, such as chlorhexidine (antimicrobial rinse). This is to help combat the bacteria living deep under the gums. Patients are given post-operative instructions as some temporary tenderness after the appointment can be expected. Depending on how widespread the periodontitis is (localized in a few areas or generalized throughout the mouth), these cleanings can be separated into multiple appointments.
*Please note the people depicted in the photographs are models and not real patients.*