If you notice your gums bleeding a bit while brushing your teeth or eating, what you are seeing is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by bacterial bio-films called plaque that adhere to tooth surfaces and is the most common form of periodontal disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, the inflammation will work its way down the tooth causing a “periodontal pocket” and bacteria will have the ability to thrive. If during your normal teeth cleaning not all plaque can be removed, it may be recommended that a deeper cleaning or scaling be performed.
What is a Debridement?
A debridement is needed when there is moderate to heavy amount of build-up on the teeth which can not be completely removed in routine cleaning appointment time. If you have a debridement done, this normally implies that there is more cleaning to be done on the teeth or tooth roots. During a debridement, your hygienist will remove deposits which can be removed comfortably at and just below the gum line.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is needed when the gum tissue is periodontaly involved. The patient is given local anesthetic to reduce discomfort. During this cleaning the hygienist removes bacteria and calculus deposits below the gum line and to the bottom of the periodontal pocket, smoothing the tooth root surface to promote healing.
A fine scale is done following a debridement, or Scaling and Root planing procedure, to be sure all fine calculus is removed. This is performed to promote healing after these procedures.
The maintenance cleaning should be every 3–6 month which is determined at the last cleaning. At this appointment the periodontal pockets depths will be re-evaluated to determine if the scaling and root planing as well as patient’s homecare has been effective. If it is determined that additional treatment is needed it will be discussed, otherwise a routine cleaning will be performed.