Plaque is a sticky, transparent layer of bacteria and when it’s not removed in a timely manner, it can form a hardened bond on your teeth that can’t be eliminated with a regular toothbrush. This is called calculus, commonly referred to as tartar. When plaque and tartar build up, you’re more susceptible to infection, which is why we recommend a regular cleaning, or prophylaxis, two to three times a year. Since regular cleanings are a preventative procedure, they’re covered by insurance carriers.
Our cleanings will effectively remove the stains, soft plaque and tartar that have accumulated since the last time we saw you. We’ll clean the visible part of your teeth and just slightly below the gum line using special tools like an ultrasonic scaler. We floss to get those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies and then wrap things up by polishing your teeth. This lets us create a smoother surface to repel foods that tend to stick to the enamel and buff away the surface stains for a whiter grin. You’ll get a clean that you can’t match with at-home instruments.
Between your dental exam and your routine cleaning, we can detect early signs of tooth decay, gum inflammation and problems like broken fillings and ensure we’re executing our proactive plan for your smile health. We’ll also chat with you about any improvements you can make in your brushing and flossing habits.
If you have periodontal disease and underwent a deep cleaning, standard prophylaxis will no longer do the trick to keep teeth and gums healthy. Instead, periodontal maintenance will become part of your routine dental care. This type of cleaning involves removing the buildup of plaque and tartar above and below the gum line, all the way down to where the root of the tooth meets the gum and bone. Even though there isn’t a cure for gum disease, periodontal maintenance is one of the ways we can stop its progression, control inflammation and prevent further damage to the bone and tissues that support your teeth.
During periodontal maintenance, we measure the depths of your gum pockets, which are the spaces that form between your teeth and gums when you have periodontal disease. We also take routine x-rays to monitor bone and gum recession and Dr. Gutierrez will examine your mouth. A member of our hygiene team will clean your teeth and use a scaler to remove bacteria from under the gum line. If any pockets are inflamed, we’ll flush them with antibacterial medication and, if necessary, we can also smooth rough parts of your tooth roots.
As far as dental insurance, periodontal maintenance usually falls under the category of basic services so you may be required to meet your yearly deductible before coverage kicks in. We typically recommend periodontal maintenance every three to four months, though it will depend on how stable your condition is, whether or not your gums are bleeding or inflamed, how quickly plaque and tartar build up and how well you care for your gums at home.