Dental Cleanings (Prophylaxis)

As a new patient, it is important that you understand our protocol for determining what type of “cleaning” you will require. During your comprehensive examination on your first visit, we will check the health of your gums by observing the texture and firmness of the tissue, measuring the pocket of gums around your teeth, and annotating any bleeding, movement of teeth, plaque and tartar build-up, as well as any obvious signs of disease.

If in the past you have received routine dental cleanings nearly every six months, take good care of your teeth, have little to no bleeding gums, and have minimal tartar and plaque build-up, you can most likely expect to receive a routine cleaning. Most insurances cover the cost of this cleaning twice per year. The majority of our patients fall into this category.

If it has been awhile since your last cleaning and you have significant deposits on your teeth, it may be impossible for us to make an accurate diagnosis of the health of your gums and teeth until the majority of the deposits have been removed. The removal of these large deposits is a procedure called a gross debridement and insurances cover this procedure to varying degrees. After a brief period of time (2-3 weeks), we will reschedule you for a follow-up appointment in order to make an accurate determination as to the true health or diseased state of your gums and teeth. If it is determined that your gums and supporting bone are in a mostly healthy state, you will undergo a routine cleaning to complete the removal of any remaining deposits above and slightly below the gum line. It may also be recommended that you have your teeth cleaned every four months for the first year in order to get your oral health back to an optimal state. At that point, you would return to the normal six-month cleaning schedule.

If it is determined you have generalized periodontitis (severe inflammation of the gums and loss of tooth-supporting bone in the entire mouth) either before or after a gross debridement, you will require a thorough “under-the-gums” treatment known as scaling and root planing (SRP). SRP is one facet of our “Healthy Gums” program which is designed to stabilize your oral conditions in order to prevent any further tissue destruction and possible loss of teeth. More information will be given to you about this program if you are a candidate. Once again, coverage of this treatment varies with each insurance company.

At times, some patients may have a localized area of periodontitis while the rest of their mouth is in a relatively healthy state. We may recommend SRP in the affected area only during their cleaning and will reevaluate the area at subsequent appointments to determine if further treatment is needed (e.g., referral to a specialist).

Please understand that it is impossible for us to determine the state of your oral health and subsequent treatment needs without a comprehensive examination. While we strive to accommodate a “cleaning” on your first visit, sometimes it cannot be accomplished. We thank you for choosing our office for your oral healthcare needs and are here to answer any and all questions you may have.