Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's Not Just a Cleaning

People often wonder why their "cleaning" is not a "cleaning". I had patient come in recently that was visibly upset about this. 

How do we differentiate between a regular cleaning and a deep cleaning? I've written a couple of blogs previously on this topic. Click here for a link to a previous blog explaining the differences in more detail. 

Basically, the main difference is the depth of the pockets and the presence of calculus (tartar) that has accumulated below and at the level of the gums.

A pocket is a term that describes the space between the highest point of the gums and the lowest point of attachment. We consider normal pocket depth to be 3 millimeters or less. 

Calculus is the hardened and mineralized plaque and debris that has formed on the teeth. This is not much different from the hard water deposits you get in a bathtub. Some people accumulate it faster than others depending on the mineral content in their saliva.

Is there a potential problem when a "cleaning" is performed on a person that requires a "deep cleaning"? Absolutely! 

The problem here is that if only the visible surfaces of the teeth are cleaned, then the gums will heal at only the most superficial levels. This will in turn cause the gingiva to pretty much tighten at the most superficial areas. However, debris will remain in the pocket and act as a foreign body that can cause anaerobic bacteria to thrive. When our immune system is overwhelmed, a periodontal abscess will develop. This is considered a dental emergency.

If you are wondering what type of cleaning you require, speak with your dentist. He or she would be happy to discuss it with you.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

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