|What is a prophylaxis? |
A prophylaxis is also called a cleaning. It is the removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from tooth structures not affected by bone loss (above the gum line).
How often do I need to have my teeth cleaned?
The old system of everyone having their teeth cleaned only twice a year has fallen out of favor. In fact, many believe that the idea actually came from the recommendations of a 1940 toothpaste advertisement!
While some people may be able to maintain their dental health with semi-annual cleanings, many patients find that their mouths and teeth stay in better shape when they have their teeth cleaned more frequently. Many dentists and hygienists are now setting up a patient’s cleaning schedule based on their personal needs. This may be as often as four times a year.
My insurance pays for teeth cleaning twice a year.
Why should I have it done more often?
Dental insurance isn’t really insurance (a payment to cover the cost of a loss) at all. It is actually a money benefit, typically provided by an employer, to help their employees pay for routine dental treatment. The employer usually buys a plan based on the amount of the benefit and how much the premium costs per month. Most benefit plans are only designed to cover a portion of the total cost of a person’s necessary dental treatment. For example, a dentist may recommend a crown for a tooth that has extensive decay, however, the dental plan may only cover the cost of a filling. This does not mean that the patient does not need a crown, only that the benefit is limited to a filling.
While twice yearly insurance payment toward the cost of teeth cleaning is common, that type of payment arrangement actually has no relationship to what any patient might really need. Many patients need cleanings more frequently. People who have heavy plaque and calculus buildup are prime candidates. Also people who are generally healthy but have certain types of systemic conditions, such as diabetes, or those taking specific medications, may require more frequent cleanings. The good news is that with the help of dental benefits, the amount you have to pay is reduced!
I have been told that I have periodontal disease and need to have root planing and scaling. What is periodontal disease? What is root planing?
Periodontal disease can be described as an infection of the gums and bone, which support the teeth. Bacterial plaque, and its toxic by-products, plus calculus and roughened root surfaces can overwhelm the mouth’s defenses. Typically, unhealthy gum tissue covers eroded bone, resulting in abnormal pockets around the roots. Left untreated, periodontal disease can result in loss of teeth. It is a common, and sometimes silent, condition in many adults.
Root planing and scaling are therapeutic, meticulous, and time consuming treatments designed to remove toxins and bacteria from the root surfaces of the teeth, thereby allowing the body’s immune system to begin the healing process. Calculus (tartar), diseased cementum and/or dentin are scaled away. (Cementum is the hard tissue that covers the tooth root. Dentin is that part of the tooth that is underneath the cementum.)
Several appointments, treating sections of the mouth at a time, and local anesthesia may be required. Your dental hygienist will provides this service. The American Academy of Periodontology considers scaling the root surface to be a critical element in establishing periodontal health. In addition, studies now show a relationship between gum and bone health and certain heart conditions, premature and low birth-weight babies, and various systemic diseases.
THE LASER HELPS US FIGHT PERIODONTAL DISEASE
The fight against periodontal disease has gained renewed value and the hygiene team has a high tech weapon to help control this gum infection.
The soft tissue laser is used in conjunction with conventional scaling and root planing. The diode laser energy is attracted to infected tissue, is thermal, and actually vaporizes the targeted diseased tissue.
Your dentist and dental hygienist play a critical role in your oral health as well as your general health. There is a direct correlation between periodontal disease and systemic health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Our goal is to assist you in maintaining an optimally healthy mouth by decontaminating all pockets of harmful bacteria. By using the laser at the beginning of your appointment, we can minimize bacteria from entering the bloodstream.
Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy is used on patients who have periodontal disease.
Using the diode soft-tissue laser in periodontal therapy offers two distinct advantages over using traditional hand instrumentation alone. First, the extreme precision of the laser allows removal of only the diseased tissue. Second, the laser provides simultaneous coagulation of blood vessels, providing biostimulation.
The soft-tissue laser is well suited for other dental procedures as well. Ask us if you are a candidate for the laser.
Periodontal disease is a serious bacterial infection of the gums, bone and connective tissue, which destroys the essential supporting structures of the teeth. Periodontal disease, left untreated, may lead to further bone loss, eventual tooth loss and has been associated with other diseases such as heart disease, strokes, and other general health complications. In your periodontal evaluation, we measure the “pocket” depth around the affected teeth with a probe to determine how far along the bacterial infection has progressed. Because of the “pocket” depths, a series of periodontal hygiene visits, which include scaling, root planing, and laser treatment, are recommended. At each visit the hygienist will anesthetize the area of your mouth being worked on, remove the plaque and calculus (tartar) deposits, then smooth the root surface of each tooth to encourage re-attachment of the gum tissue. The Soft Tissue Laser will then be used and is critical in treating periodontal pockets greater than 4 mm as well as problem bleeding areas. With deep pocketing and bleeding, there is active infection deep within the gum tissue causing bone loss and eventual tooth loss. The laser light directed through a tiny fiber is inserted into the space between the teeth and gums. The energy from this laser light kills the bacteria that are causing the periodontal infection and selectively removes the diseased tissue, allowing for re-growth of healthy tissue. The number of appointments depends on the severity of your periodontal disease. These simple procedures go a long way to eliminate the source of gum problems. In rare cases, deeper pockets may require additional surgical care to thoroughly clean away the infected tissue and repair the damaged jawbone.
If you are a patient of record and your periodontal health has declined, we can usually adjust the above treatment into fewer appointments. Once the initial phase of periodontal treatment is complete, you will be appointed in One Month for a Perio Evaluation. At this appointment, your hygienist will thoroughly evaluate the health of your gum tissue and retreat any areas resistant to healing. This is a critical appointment in helping you to achieve a healthy mouth. It is then very important to see your hygienist on a Three Month Maintenance Schedule so that eventually the periodontal pocketing will improve to lower numbers and no bleeding.
Once the bacterial infection is initially arrested with scaling, root planing, and laser treatment, periodontal patients require ongoing therapy, called Periodontal Maintenance, to prevent recurring bacterial toxins from destroying the bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal maintenance includes site-specific scaling and root planing, which involves treating root surfaces that cannot be accessed with a toothbrush or prophylaxis and laser treatment to disinfect your entire mouth. After your series of scaling appointments, we usually see periodontal patients on a 3 month re-care basis. Maintaining these appointments and good home care are essential for success.
Many insurance plans pay for a portion of periodontal maintenance twice a year, even though most patients require appointments four times a year.