The hygienist will take dental x-rays and evaluate your teeth and tissues for risk factors associated with tooth decay and gum conditions. Recommendations for preventive or therapeutic treatment will be made based on your individual needs.
The hygienist will measure your gums (probing depths) and evaluate your gum tissue for recession and signs of inflammation (redness, bleeding). This will be done at least once per year and recorded in your dental record. This information, in addition to review of your updated x-rays, will be used to diagnose your periodontal condition as healthy or having gingivitis or periodontitis. The type of hygiene care recommended is based on this diagnosis.
When you have healthy gums or mild gingivitis, a regular preventive cleaning will be recommended ("prophylaxis").
When you have moderate or severe gingivitis, a therapeutic cleaning will be recommended ("scaling for moderate/severe gingivitis"). Gingivitis is a reversible process often related to plaque build-up. If your gum condition improves, you may go back to getting regular preventive cleanings. If your gum condition worsens and progresses into periodontitis, it becomes an irreversible disease.
For both the preventive and therapeutic cleanings, the hygienist will remove plaque, tartar, and stains, and the teeth will be polished and flossed.
When you are diagnosed with active periodontal disease (periodontitis), therapeutic periodontal therapy "scaling and root planing" will be recommended. The hygienist will clean and smooth the surfaces of the teeth above the gums and within the gum pockets. Local anesthetic is typically required. Active periodontal disease means there are signs of inflammation (bleeding) and evidence of continued loss of gum tissue attachment.
Following treatment for active periodontal disease, a therapeutic periodontal therapy "periodontal maintenance" will be recommended. Recare intervals are more frequent than those of preventive cleanings and are based on your individual periodontal condition. Typically every 3-4 months.
*See the page "Periodontal Therapy" for more information.
This is an optional treatment where the hygienist may apply professional strength fluoride to the exposed surfaces of your teeth after a dental cleaning or periodontal maintenance. If you are susceptible to getting cavities or have exposed root surfaces from gum recession or periodontal disease, fluoride treatment is a great tool that has preventive and reparative effects on the teeth.
How does fluoride work? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is often added to water, food, and other products. In correct concentrations, it has preventive and reparative effects. Fluoride inhibits demineralization (weakening of the tooth structure), enhances remineralization (fluoride incorporates itself into the tooth structure itself), and inhibits plaque bacteria (reduces solubility of tooth minerals and interferes with bacteria acid production).
A dental sealant is a thin white coating painted in the grooves on the chewing surface of your back teeth. This is a preventive treatment used to keep cavities from forming on this part of your tooth. It is typically recommended for kids when their adult molars come in, however if you are at high risk for developing cavities, it may be recommended for you. This is a quick procedure that the hygienist may do.