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Dental cleanings are not simply a “careful toothbrushing” performed by a dentist or hygienist. Dental cleanings (or “prophylaxis”) are an opportunity for dental health professionals to remove stains and bacterial deposits that are impossible to remove at home and will otherwise continue to collect, causing disease that can destroy the gums and bone that anchor the teeth. They are also an opportunity for your dentist to check for cavities and other oral diseases that are almost always painless until significant irreversible damage has already been done.
More importantly, not all cleanings are created equal. Some people require a more thorough “deep cleaning” procedure to stop the development and progression of severe gum disease (or “periodontitis”). Some examples of people who often need these more detailed cleanings (or “scaling and root planing”) are those who may have neglected seeking routine dental care, those who use tobacco products, people with certain health conditions (e.g. diabetes), or those people who have a genetic predisposition to developing severe gum disease. For these people, the “regular” dental cleanings cannot be performed until the gum disease has been treated.
What is Included in Teeth Cleaning?
Routine dental prophylaxis includes removing bacteria and stains from the teeth above and immediately below the gumline. Deposits that have collected deep under the gums and between the teeth require scaling and root planing (“deep cleaning”) to properly remove. Once these have been removed, the teeth are polished with a special paste to help prevent the collection of more bacteria and stain in the days following the appointment.
How Long Does a Dental Exam Take?
A dental exam is often very short (less than 5 minutes) for people who routinely seek dental care and maintain good oral health practices at home. However, exams can be much longer for people with more involved treatment needs. If Dr. Turner detects oral diseases (cavities, gum disease, or other diseases of the mouth) he will often spend 15-30 minutes educating patients about the issue and discussing the pros and cons of different treatment options.
Is Dental Cleaning The Same as a Dental Exam?
A dental cleaning is separate from the exam, though an exam often precedes or follows a cleaning. As cleaning is a medical procedure, it must be prescribed by a doctor who takes responsibility for monitoring your oral health.
How Much Does a Dental Cleaning Cost?
Dental cleanings, diagnostic images, and exams are very often completely covered by dental insurance. Our staff is always happy to check with your insurance to see if there is any out of pocket cost to you for any of the services we provide.
How Often Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned?
For most people, the recommended “every 6 months” rule is appropriate to prevent excessive build up of bacterial collections. Certain health issues and dental conditions require more frequent cleanings to prevent the same build up. Dr. Turner is always happy to educate his patients on their oral health status and make recommendations for improving or maintaining a healthy smile!