Plaque is a soft, sticky build-up of protein that forms naturally in your mouth. Bacteria that are naturally found in your mouth can nest in this protein matrix and replicate. When the protein in your mouth is colonized by your oral bacteria it is called a BIOFILM. (in the future, I will be making a Biofilm video for Youtube, you can link to it here) Because plaque is soft and sticky it is easily removed by a toothbrush and floss.
Plaque turns into Tartar like water turns into ice. A major component in your saliva is the mineral Calcium. When you leave plaque on any surface in your mouth for more than 12 hours, the calcium in your saliva will begin to mineralize the plaque and it will harden into sharp thorn-like protrusions on your teeth called Tartar. The calcified plaque is tenaciously attached to your teeth and can NOT be removed with a toothbrush or floss. It will lacerate your gum tissue causing bleeding and inflammation that if not removed, will begin to dissolve away the bone around your teeth. Infection in your gums is called Periodontal Disease. The number one cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States is not from cavities or decay, it is from the bone dissolving away around your teeth, that comes from an infection in your bone, that comes from an infection in your gums, that comes from the tartar that is stuck to your teeth, because it was not removed when it was soft plaque.
A regular “Cleaning” is the routine removal of plaque (soft protein buildup) and tartar (calcified deposits) off of teeth in a “Healthy” mouth. Because the mouth is healthy, when a “Cleaning” is done, it is often called a Routine Maintenance Visit, because it is done to maintain your health. In contrast, a “Deep Cleaning” is the treatment for an ongoing Active Disease process (Periodontal Disease) that is dissolving the bone around your teeth away and giving you bad breath. During a Deep Cleaning, the hygienist will use specialized instruments to gently remove the calcified build-up (Tartar) off of your teeth.
When the tartar on your teeth has built up to the point where your gums are bleeding, that is a good indication that there is an ongoing bacterial infection called Periodontal Disease, in your mouth. Bad breath and loosening of your teeth are also signs that you should be evaluated by a dental professional (dentist or hygienist) to see if you have Periodontal (Gum) Disease.
Whether or not you need a Deep Cleaning is determined through a screening process called Periodontal Probing. A Periodontal Probe is like a small ruler that is rounded on the end. It is gently placed below the gumline by the Hygienist and it allows us to measure the amount of bone around your teeth. When the Periodontal Probe is placed below the gum line, it will stop at the level of the bone around your tooth. The farther it goes below the gum line, the more bone loss there is around your tooth. If the probe goes to 3 mm or less below the gumline, the level of the bone is Healthy. If the probe goes 4 mm below the gumline you have 1 mm of bone loss and the tissue is considered Mildly infected. If the probe goes 5 mm below the gumline you have 2 mm of bone loss and the tissue is considered Moderately infected. If the probe goes 6 mm or more below the gumline the area is considered Severely infected.
If you have any measurements in your mouth that are greater than 3 mm, you should consider having a Deep Cleaning done to prevent further bone loss, bad breath, and potential tooth loss.
To schedule an appointment to have the bone loss around your teeth measured, Click here, or call (310) 881-8780 and request a Periodontal Probing appointment with SmileOn Dentistry’s hygienist.
If you have ever had a sliver of wood in your finger, you know how it feels to put a pair of tweezers under your skin to pull it out. Having a Deep Cleaning to remove the sharp spicules of calcified tartar off of your teeth feels about the same. The bad news is that it is mildly painful to have a Deep Cleaning, the good news is that after the root surfaces of your teeth have all the irritants removed, your gums will feel a lot better.
When hard, calcified, Tartar deposits on your teeth cause an infection in your gums (Periodontal Disease), the infection in your gums will go into the bone and infect the bone around your teeth. The infected bone tissue will die and the dead cells, pus, and infection will drain into your mouth and can give you incredibly Bad Breath. Our hygienist will use a High Tech Piezo Electric Scaler with a water spray to flush the dead, necrotic tissue (which contributes to bad breath) out from underneath your gums and will leave your mouth feeling clean and your breath fresh.
We perform a thorough Periodontal Probing prior to your Deep Cleaning and do another Periodontal Probing one month after your Deep Cleaning and compare the measurements before your periodontal therapy to the measurements after your periodontal therapy. After your Deep Cleaning appointments, all of your measurements (that are greater than 3 mm) should shrink by at least one millimeter.