June 4, 2020

The 101 on Different Types of Dental Cleaning Options: Here’s What You Should Know


Just the thought of going to the dentist can be an anxiety provoking experience many of us are all too familiar with. Sometimes doing your research and understanding the fancy terminology and what it really means for your next dental cleaning or dental hygiene appointment can help alleviate fears well before you make your next dental cleaning appointment. 

This post will break down what to expect with some of the most common types of dental cleanings, how long you can expect your dental visit to take as well as insights around expected cost. Having regularly scheduled dental cleanings are part of a preventive dentistry regime. Here are some of the most common types of dental cleaning options, all of which we offer for new and existing patients at South Gables Dental. 

  1. Prophylaxis Dental Cleaning
  2. Scaling and Root Planing Dental Cleaning
  3. Gross Debridement Dental Cleaning

What is a Prophylaxis Dental Cleaning? Commonly Known as The Normal Dental Cleaning

Don’t be intimidated by words you may misspell or mispronounce like prophylaxis. Interesting enough, prophylaxis comes from the Greek word prophylaktikós which means to guard and protect. Very fitting for a dental cleaning, right? 

A prophylaxis dental cleaning is more commonly known as a normal dental cleaning and probably what pops into your mind when you think about when you go to schedule your next dental exam. It’s very routine and part of preventative dentistry and general dental hygiene. During a prophylaxis dental cleaning you can expect to have a series of dental x-rays followed by a hygienist who examines your gum tissue, performs a thorough cleaning and removes plaque and tartar. The dental hygienist will finish up with polishing your teeth, flossing and alerting the dentist of any areas of concern for an examination before your appointment wraps up. You’ll likely be examined by the dentist before heading out. Unless your dentist advises differently, for most patients a normal dental cleaning is performed every 6 months and can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Believe it or not, some patients prefer to receive a thorough dental cleaning every 3 months, especially if they experience more tartar than normal or are going through Invisalign

What is a Scaling and Root Planing Dental Cleaning? AKA Dental Deep Cleaning

Just like when you go to a car wash, sometimes you need a bit more than just the drive through. The same goes for dental cleaning.

If you have signs of gum disease, your dentist may recommend a process known as scaling and root planing or what’s more commonly referred to as dental deep cleaning. It’s a deeper cleaning compared to a prophylaxis cleaning and is a nonsurgical option if there are signs of periodontal disease. It differs from a normal cleaning in that it cleans the area of the tooth below the gum line. While not always needed, based on your comfort level, sometimes a local anesthetic is used to mitigate any potential pain. 

You may find yourself wondering, what’s the big deal about my gums and why should I consider a dental deep cleaning? If left untreated, gum disease can lead to bone and tooth loss or shifting teeth, among other health concerns. In addition, sometimes your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning before another required dental procedure.

A dental deep cleaning should be recommended by a dentist who is familiar with your dental and health history. While sometimes the whole mouth is done in a single visit, a deep dental cleaning can be spread out over a few visits as well. You can expect an hour to two hours depending on how much of the mouth is covered. There are options here so be sure to discuss them in detail with your dentist to answer all of your questions and alleviate any potential concerns to uncover if a scaling and root planing dental cleaning is right for you. 

What is Gross Debridement Cleaning? 

Your routine dental hygiene (or lack thereof) can influence the type of dental cleaning needed. Of course genetics and lifestyle choices also play a role. Remember when your mom told you not to procrastinate? Well, she was right especially when it comes to scheduling regular dental cleanings. Oftentimes, if you skip a few of those normal dental cleanings and floss irregularly or not at all, your dentist may suggest a gross debridement cleaning. 

So what exactly is a gross debridement cleaning? 

The American Dental Association describes a full mouth debridement as the “gross removal of plaque and calculus that interfere with the ability of the dentist to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation.”

Essentially the plaque and tartar build up is too much for a normal cleaning and additional time and tools are needed to chip away at the buildup. Oftentimes, a special tool with ultrasonic vibrations is used to remove calcified tartar followed by scaling. As a patient, you can expect this cleaning to last 45-60 minutes. Again, it’s important to consult your trusted dentist if a gross debridement cleaning is the best option based on your dental health history. 

Hopefully after reading this you breathed a sigh of relief and feel that much more informed before scheduling your next dental visit. If you have any additional questions, our team is more than happy to answer them for you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Looking for the Best Teeth Cleaning in Coral Gables, Florida?

Dr. Lawrence Lesperance and his skilled team are here to help put you at ease whether you are a new dental patient or returning one. Call us today at 305-665-1263 or click here to schedule your next dental cleaning! 

We’re seeing new patients, so you can contact us to schedule an appointment for all of your Coral Gables or Miami dentist needs.

I’m Dr. Lawrence Lesperance, a Coral Gables dentist who specializes in preventative dentistry, general dentistry services, and cosmetic dentistry services. My team and I provide personalized dental services for the whole family and offer orthodontic treatments, implant dentistry, periodontic services and botox treatments (for TMJ and migraines and cosmetic botox) and much more. Contact us to experience the South Gables Dental difference today!

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