Family/Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry

Types of Cleanings

There are three basic types of procedures to remove plaque and bacteria from teeth, and treat the areas above and below the gum line. The type and frequency of the procedure you need depends on your dentist’s diagnosis.

  • Prophy or Prophylaxis: Patients diagnosed with a healthy mouth and healthy gums receive a prophylaxis or healthy mouth cleaning. This procedure removes plaque on the teeth and at the gum line and is suggested every 6 months.
  • Perio Maintenance: Patients who have had root planing, perio scaling, or other perio surgical treatment are then placed on a perio maintenance cleaning schedule.  This type of cleaning may also be performed by a hygienist, however, it differs from the "healthy mouth" cleaning (prophy) as it cleans above AND below the gum line which is very important to maintain perio health and must be performed more often than a prophy cleaning.
  • Full Mouth Debridement: Patients who haven't had a professional dental cleaning in two years or more and/or have a great deal of "build-up" or tarter present, may require a full mouth debridement.  This type of cleaning requires additional time for the clinician and is then typically followed by a prophy depending on the condition of the gums.

Non-surgical Perio Therapy-
  • Scaling & Root Planing (SRP): Patients diagnosed with active periodontal disease cannot benefit from a healthy mouth cleaning because they require treatment above AND below the gum line. These patients generally receive SRP, a non-surgical treatment that removes build-up, smooths out exposed root surfaces and may include the application of localized antibiotics and fluoride as well. SRP often takes several visits to complete and ongoing periodontal maintenance is prescribed at regular intervals thereafter.

Because periodontal (gum) disease is so common in adults, the standard of care for dental cleanings has changed significantly. Limiting treatment to what your insurance covers could prevent you from receiving proper dental care.

Healthy Mouth Cleaning [Prophy]
This procedure cleans the areas above the gum line. It is performed only on patients whose six-point probing and x-rays identify a healthy periodontal condition. Most dental insurance plans cover this type of cleaning. If you have periodontal disease you can no longer benefit from a healthy mouth cleaning. Instead, you will need a full mouth debridement or periodontal therapy.
May Include
  • removing small deposits of plaque
  • tooth polishing
  • prescription-strength fluoride application
  • hygiene instructions
Frequency
Every six months
Full Mouth Debridement
This procedure removes bacterial plaque and calculus build-up on the teeth so the dentist can conduct a full periodontal assessment. It is performed on patients who have not visited a dentist in more than a year or who have a diagnosis of gingivitis. After debridement, the dentist will determine whether a healthy mouth cleaning or periodontal therapy is required.
May Include
  • removing plaque build-up
  • antimicrobial irrigation
  • hygiene instructions
Frequency
Once if regular dental appointments and home care are maintained following the procedure
This procedure is a conservative, non-surgical approach to treating periodontal disease above and below the gum line. It is performed on patients who have been diagnosed with active periodontal disease. This therapy requires the patient to follow with periodontal maintenance visits to manage the disease.
May Include
  • removal of bacterial plaque & calculus above & below the gum line
  • localized antibiotics
  • smoothing root surfaces
  • antimicrobial irrigation
  • desensitizer application
  • prescription-strength fluoride application
  • hygiene instructions
Frequency
May be performed all at once but is typically performed in phases in multiple visits
This ongoing therapy provides cleaning and maintenance above and below the gum line to help manage periodontal disease. It is performed on patients who have successfully completed scaling & root planing. Successful long-term management of periodontal disease requires regular maintenance visits.
May Include
  • site-specific scaling & root planing
  • antimicrobial irrigation
  • placing localized antibiotics
  • prescription-strength fluoride application
  • polishing
  • ongoing periodontal reassessment
  • hygiene instructions
Frequency
Generally performed at 2, 3 or 4-month intervals