Proper oral hygiene is an integral part of maintaining a good overall health. The human mouth harbors over 300 different species of microorganisms and can be a treacherous environment for our teeth and gums. As a portal to our overall body, condition in our mouths have been linked to certain systemic conditions (Learn more). With proper home care, diet and regular professional cleaning, most Americans can expect to enjoy a healthy mouth and keep their natural teeth throughout their lives. For children, tooth decay is the biggest concern. While for adults, periodontal disease is becoming a greater concern. Although there are many factors that influence one’s oral health, practicing good oral hygiene combined with proper nutrition and regular dental care are the most effective ways to reduce the risk of dental related problems.
What is gingivitis?
Most of us have some level of gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to a condition that causes the gums to swell and/or bleed. It can sometimes be sensitive or even painful to brush or floss. It is our body’s reaction to plaque that builds up around the teeth and along the gumline. Maintaining good oral hygiene is an integral part of maintaining a healthy mouth. With proper technique in brushing, flossing and professional cleaning, the risk of gum disease can be minimized.
Why do my gums bleed when I floss?
There are factors that make some of us more susceptible to plaque and calculus (tartar) buildup than others. Some conditions include crowding or misalignment of the teeth, spacing or gaps that act as food traps, our diet, quality and quantity of saliva, and deep groove anatomy of the teeth are a few common examples.
In some cases, certain medical conditions can make some individuals more prone to bleeding. In most healthy individuals, however, recommended frequency of brushing and flossing in combination with routine professional cleanings can keep gum disease and tooth decay under control.
What type of cleaning do I need?
Because each person’s situation is unique, the type of cleaning that is indicated may vary. Below are some common types of cleaning for most people:
Prophylaxis (Routine cleaning)
- To prevent dental problems such as gum disease (gingivitis) and bone loss (periodontal disease)
- Involves removing sticky film that forms around the teeth (plaque)
- Involves removing hardened plaque that forms around the teeth (calculus)
- Removes surface stains on teeth
Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing (Deep cleaning)
- To treat periodontal disease before it causes irreversible damage to the surrounding tissues that support the teeth
- Involves administering anesthetic to numb the areas to be treated
- Involves removing plaque and calculus from the root surfaces above and below the gums
- May involve using laser to treat the deepest periodontal pocket areas (kills disease causing bacteria with laser)
- To evaluate the sites treated for deep cleaning 4-6 weeks after treatment
- Involves evaluating the gum tissue health (pocket depths, bleeding, pain) and any build up since the deep cleaning
- Involves removing any plaque and calculus buildup since the deep cleaning appointment
- To determine what treatment interval is recommended
Periodontal Maintenance (Routine cleaning for patients with periodontal disease)
- To improve or maintain periodontal conditions and/or prevent further destruction of teeth-supporting tissues
- Occurs in regular intervals after your initial deep cleaning appointment
- Depending on your response to therapy, you may be referred to a specialist for further evaluation
- To remove heavy plaque and calculus buildup to allow access and visibility for your dentist to assess your condition
- For those who haven’t had a cleaning in a long time (or naturally builds up faster than average)
- After gross debridement and subsequent examination, the type of cleaning can be determined. Heavy plaque and buildup do not necessarily require deep cleaning if there is no evidence of periodontal disease.
After a complete examination, Dr. Lin will explain to you what is recommended for your unique situation.
Learn more about Periodontal Disease.