Dr. Spencer believes strongly in preventive dental care, and effective teeth cleaning appointments are critical to maintaining a healthy mouth. While getting cavities filled ensures that your teeth are healthy, teeth cleanings make sure that the gums and bones that support the teeth, referred to as the periodontium, are healthy.
All patients who come to Dr. Spencer’s dental office in Merced, CA, will receive a thorough and comprehensive cleaning with their hygienist. The type of cleaning necessary depends on the periodontal health of each patient.
How Do You Determine Periodontal Health?
At every initial dental exam, and every year thereafter, Dr. Spencer and our team of qualified hygienists will make measurements in your mouth. We use a periodontal probe, which you can think of as a small measuring stick, to measure the depth of gingival pockets between your teeth and your gums. These measurements are invaluable information.
Healthy gums will usually have pockets 1-3 millimeters (mm) deep. Pockets that are 4-5 mm deep are usually inflamed, a disease called gingivitis. Pockets deeper than 5 mm suggest that the supporting bone has dissolved away, a disease called periodontitis. The depth of your gum pockets can tell us a lot about your overall oral health!
Additionally, Dr. Spencer and our treatment team will look for signs of calculus or build-up and any areas on your gums that look inflamed and red instead of a healthy pink.
Get the Level of Dental Cleaning That Is Right for You
The type of teeth cleaning that is best for you will depend on how healthy your gums are. The goal for all cleanings is the same, and that is to control the bad bacteria that may affect your periodontal health.
For patients who have overall healthy gums and only a little bit of calculus and inflammation, this is accomplished with a “prophy.” Prophy is short for prophylaxis and suggests that the main purpose of the cleaning is to prevent any disease from starting.
For patients who have deeper pockets and higher amounts of calculus and inflammation, this is accomplished with scaling and root planing. With this type of cleaning, the hygienist will really focus on using their tools to remove any calculus and bacteria that are hiding in the deep pockets. Doing this allows the gums to heal. You will most likely not be able to regrow the supporting bone that has been lost, but this focused type of cleaning allows you to maintain the bone levels you still have.
Scaling and root planing is one of the best tools we have to fight gum disease, so if you require this type of dental cleaning, we may want to see you for visits more often than every six months until your condition stabilizes or improves.
Happy Gums Make a Happy Smile!
Dr. Spencer and our team of hygienists love helping patients achieve good oral health. Call us today to schedule your periodontal exam and cleaning!