Category Archives: Cleaning & Gum Treatments

Type of Cleaning: Deep Cleaning

Do I need a deep cleaning or a simple cleaning?

As you keep going to your dentist over the years, at some point you’re bound to hear “you need a deep cleaning”. Now keep in mind that deep cleanings can expensive, time consuming and somewhat painful. In fact they are so much fun that dentists usually break them down into several visits stretched over the course of a few weeks. So should you go for a deep cleaning? Or should you try to convince your dentist to settle for a regular one instead?

What is a deep cleaning?

A deep cleaning, also referred to as scaling and root planning, is required whenever you accumulate hardened plaque, known as tartar or calculus, underneath your gums. Basically, if you have tartar and calculus you need a deep cleaning. The cleaning focuses on removing harmful calcified buildups from tooth root surfaces. This is in contrast to a simple (regular) cleaning which doesn’t pay much attention to teeth roots and is performed in absence of tartar and calculus buildups.

How can you tell if you have tartar and calculus buildup on your teeth?

Your dentist needs to determine this for you. Here is how dentists determine the condition of your gums:

  • In the most extreme cases, tartar and calculus will actually be visible in your mouth. It will be sitting right along your gumlines with a stained dark brown/blackish appearance.
  • Many times tartar and calculus will show up on X-rays. Your dentist or hygienist can point it out to you if this is the case. Tartar appears like a small triangular ledge which sits in between two adjacent teeth.
  • To conclusively determine how much tartar and calculus is present on you teeth, your dentist or hygienist will perform a gum exam. This will determine how healthy your gums are and what type of dental cleaning you require. This is known as a gum pocket (periodontal pocket) charting examination.

How does gum pocket (periodontal pocket) charting work?

Your dentist or hygienist will an instrument along your teeth, known as a periodontal probe. He or she will read out some numbers which determine how deep pockets surrounding each tooth are. This is a time consuming and painful exam, but helps establish a baseline for your gum health and monitors your improvement over time.

Gum pocket numbers show how much bone support there is around each tooth region. Smaller numbers are better, as these are areas which have strong bone support and small pockets. Larger numbers are dangerous as they indicate areas with bone loss and deep pockets which can trap food and bacteria. Numbers above 5 mm are dangerous and demonstrate early signs of gum disease and bone loss starting to develop.

Periodontal pocket depth chart and explanation

Pocket  depths


1, 2, 3 mm Excellent numbers; Strong bone support; Great attachment levels; Nice and shallow gum pockets; No signs of gum disease
4 and 5 mm Borderline numbers; Some bone loss; Some loss of attachment; Mediocre gum pocket depths, Sign of early gum disease
> 6 mm  Dangerous numbers, Advanced bone loss; Serious loss of attachment; Deep, dangerous gum pockets; Sign of moderate to advanced gum disease

Benefits of a deep cleaning

You can only remove tartar and calculus with a deep cleaning

All our gum problems start off with particles getting trapped and accumulating underneath our gum lines. Food and bacteria initially form plaque, which is a soft, sticky buildup which harbors bacteria. You can remove plaque from your teeth surfaces by brushing or flossing your teeth regularly.

However, if plaque is not removed from teeth within a timely fashion, it starts to calcify and becomes a hard after a few weeks. This calcified, hardened plaque is referred to as tartar or calculus. Unfortunately you can not remove tartar and calculus buildups by yourself. A toothbrush, dental floss or no other at-home dental cleaning device has enough force to dislodge these stubborn particles. Tartar and calculus can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist using a set of special set of instruments.

Tartar and calculus also attract bacteria which produce acidic byproducts that damage your gums. These acidic products damage your gums, destroying your gums and causing them to bleed. It can also destroy the supporting jawbone which holds your teeth in place. This causes tooth sensitivity and gradually leads to loosening of your teeth.

So if you do have tartar and calculus buildup below your gum lines then you definitely need a deep cleaning to remove these harmful buildups. A deep cleaning is your only solution to remove tartar and calculus from teeth surfaces and prevent damage to your gums and supporting jawbone.

Deep cleaning results in healthier gums and supporting jawbone

Removing harmful buildups helps eliminate the source of bacteria accumulation which is responsible for damaging and destroying your gums and jawbone. Once this occurs, your gums and bone structure start to gradually heal back to a healthy state. You’ll notice less bleeding along with your gums becoming firmer and healthier over time.

To remove tartar and calculus, your dentist or hygienist uses a series of metal-based instruments known as hand-scalers to manually scrape these particles from teeth surfaces. Or they may use an electronic device known as a cavitron instead which uses vibrational motion to loosen and dislodge buildup from teeth surfaces. cavitron works a bit faster than hand-scalers, but causes a bit more pain and sensitivity during treatment. Both techniques work equally effective if done correctly and patiently.

Deep cleanings can be time consuming, difficult and expensive… but saving your teeth make it worthwhile!

Simple dental cleanings usually take only a few minutes. It’s not that difficult to remove food or soft plaque from teeth. Typically a simple polish over 15 to 30 minutes along with maybe some fluoride paste or irrigation will get the job done.

A deep cleaning on the other hand is not something that could be rushed if you’re expecting good results. Don’t forget that it has taken tartar and calculus months if not years to build up to where they’re at right now. So don’t expect your dentist or hygienist to make up for years of neglect in just a couple of minutes.

How many sessions do deep cleanings usually take?

Several rounds of scraping your teeth surfaces will most likely be required to properly remove all buildup particles. It usually takes anywhere from one to four appointments to complete. This will depend on the amount of buildup, your pain threshold and your individual dentist or hygienist style and technique.

Single appointment deep cleaning

Easier cases with gingivitis and no advanced periodontitis can be completed within one session occasionally. Most gum treatment maintenance is also performed over one session as well. You can’t do all of your deep cleaning in one session if your teeth are sensitive and you require anesthesia. Don’t insist, as the end result is you’ll end up with a poor cleaning job and tartar remaining on your teeth!

Two appointment deep cleaning

If you’re in pain and need to get numb, then it’s best to perform your deep cleaning over two sessions. We recommend doing right side and left side separately. This way you can chew on the opposite side, just in case you end up having swelling or pain after your dental cleaning. This is ideal for deep cleaning cases associated with advanced gingivitis or early/ moderate periodontitis.

Four appointment deep cleaning

Most advanced deep cleaning cases require as many as three or four sessions. Spreading out your deep cleanings over multiple visits allows your dentist or hygienist to focus on a small number of teeth. This way they can thoroughly numb each region and remove buildup particles that have been gathering for several months or years! Four session deep cleanings are advised to treating advanced periodontitis or very sensitive patients. Most dental schools and educational clinics stick with 4 cleaning session methods for best results.

Protocol for deep cleaning and subsequent follow-ups

  • Deep cleanings start off with a series of cleanings, typically one to four sessions, to thoroughly remove all tartar and calculus from teeth surfaces.
  • Your dentist or hygienist will work with you to help improve your oral hygiene habits, monitor your progression and measure your gum pocket (periodontal pocket) depths over time. This allows them to look for signs of improvements as time passes and your gums and jawbone start to heal hopefully.
  • The initial healing phase takes several months, between 1 to 6 months depending on the seriousness of your gum condition. Additional advanced treatment may be required if your gums don’t respond well to initial therapy. These may include use of antibiotics, mouthwashes, laser or surgical therapies to bring your gums and bones to a healthy state.
  • Once stabilized your dentist will determine how frequently you need to come back for maintenance. Don’t be surprised if you are placed on a 3 to 4 month regimen as this is completely normal. If you fail to keep up with maintenance, you will be back to where you started within a year or so!


NEXT >> What Type of Cleaning do I Need: Simple Cleaning

What Type of Cleaning do I Need: How to Decide

Am I Flossing My Teeth Correctly: Correct Flossing Methods

Using dental floss correctly is a skill one has to practice to perfect. In order to floss successfully you must discover a type and brand of dental floss that works well for you. Different floss brands may give you different results based on how tight your teeth are against one another so experiment with them to figure out one that works best for you. We recommended you stick with the traditional dispenser string flosses. Only use other types of floss such as a floss-pick or a water-pik as a supplement to traditional flossing and not a replacement. You can choose between nylon and teflon dental floss as well as waxed or unwaxed versions. There are even flavored types which add a nice little kick of cinnamon or mint to your cleaning routine.

helpful hint – To improve your flossing technique try standing in front of a mirror to observe how much food particles you are removing as you floss each gap and work on improving your flossing techniques. Then on your next checkup ask your hygienist or dentist to verify if you are flossing your teeth correctly.

Here are some helpful hints to help you improve your flossing techniques.

Correct Flossing Methods

1. Floss in between each and every tooth. Make sure not to skip out on flossing any gaps between your teeth.

  • Pay attention to the back of your last molar tooth in each corner of your mouth although there is no tooth behind it.
  • Sometimes you have an area where your teeth are very tight, like the lower front teeth, and you may have to floss this area a little extra to properly remove all the trapped food and plaque particles. and plaque particles.
  • You may notice that if you have a crown or a filling it may bleed or smell after you floss that area. This is because the contact is either too tight where you break your floss on it or too loose where the floss doesn’t stick well. This might mean you have to replace the filling or crown, but sometimes even a well fitting filling and crown can cause a little bit of excess bleeding. Have your dentist examine it to determine if it is acceptable or if it may be time for a replacement. But whatever you elect to do, don’t choose to ignore flossing it. You may have excellent gums but you can still develop localized gum disease in a single gap that goes neglected.

2. Floss your teeth using the correct technique. Flossing correctly is much more than simply snapping your dental floss up and down between the teeth. The purpose of flossing is to remove the food and plaque from your teeth surfaces before they have a chance to calcify and harden where you can no longer remove them. You must slide the floss gently between the teeth and below your gumlines. Then curve the dental floss using a “C” motion to hug both the tooth in front of and one behind the gap. As you hug each tooth move the floss up and down gently to remove any gathered food or plaque particles from the tooth surface. It is best if you can do this in front of a mirror at first so you can examine each area and make sure there is no more food or plaque stuck in that space once you are done flossing it.

3. Floss your teeth daily. You should floss every day at least once if not more. And as you age and lose more gum and bone tissue and the gaps between your teeth become larger, flossing also becomes more and more important.

  • Why do we need to floss every day? Flossing helps to remove the plaque, which is a soft mass of bacteria attached to teeth surfaces. Going several days without flossing can be dangerous because the plaque buildup will start to harden and calcify. If you don’t floss regularly to remove the plaque before it hardens, it will start to calcify and is now referred to as tartar or calculus.
  • Once tartar and calculus has formed on your teeth you will require a professional cleaning from your dentist to remove them. You can no longer remove tartar or calculus from your teeth with a toothbrush or dental floss. These particles are too hard and sticky and require special metal instruments to clean. It does take a few days for this transition to occur, typically 10 to 14 days, but this is exactly why you should floss daily to prevent the plaque from becoming tartar and calculus.
  • You can not typically see tartar and calculus as they are located below your gumlines but you may notice that your gums are bleeding more or notice a foul smell or taste in your mouth. These are signs that you may be developing gum disease as a result of the accumulation of tartar and calculus and that you are overdue a dental cleaning. Schedule a checkup appointment with your dentist and consider reviewing your flossing techniques with them as well.

NEXT >> Am I Flossing My Teeth Correctly: Incorrect flossing methods

Am I Flossing My Teeth Correctly: How to Decide

Correct Brushing Method

Am I brushing correctly?

The most effective method of fighting off cavities and gum disease is brushing your teeth daily. Correct brushing requires two minutes and most dentists recommend you to brush twice a day. The best time to brush your teeth is after breakfast and before bedtime. You have the choice of using a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. They both work very well so long as you use them correctly. Here are some helpful methods to help you improve your brushing techniques for better results.

Correct brushing method

Make sure to cover each tooth and every tooth surface

You need to brush each and every one of your teeth surfaces thoroughly. Some teeth surfaces may be harder to reach and require extra attention. You need to take your time so you are not rushing through any step and cleaning all teeth surfaces equally well.

  • You need to make sure to brush the outer surface, inner surface and chewing surface of each tooth.
  • Pay close attention to the teeth located all the way to the back of your mouth. These teeth are more likely to go neglected during brushing and cause problems down the line. If you’ve elected to keep your wisdom teeth, these will require the most attention since they are so far back in your mouth.
  • If you have crowns, bridges and implants you have to dedicate more time to cleaning them. Fixed dental treatments may even require special equipments to cleaning properly. You might have to rely on devices such as superflossgo-between brush, or a waterpik in order to properly access and clean every area.
  • If you wear partial dentures you need to remove the denture to brush your remaining teeth properly. This will help keep your teeth healthy for as long as possible.
  • If you have a gap due to a missing tooth you need to spend a little extra time cleaning this area. Gaps between teeth are harder to clean and much more likely to develop problems.
Make sure you brush your teeth correctly

Correct brushing technique takes some practice to master. You need to place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums to clean the inner and outer surfaces of teeth. For the chewing surfaces hold your toothbrush flat on top of the tooth surface. You can use either a manual or electric toothbrush to clean your teeth.

  • Manual brushes work just as well as electric toothbrushes if used correctly. Correct brushing requires you to pay attention. Move the toothbrush in gentle, short circular strokes to remove the food and plaque particles from all teeth surfaces. Manual toothbrushes require replacement every 3 to 4 months since their bristles wear out.
  • Electric toothbrush have the brushing motion built-in. You only need to focus on covering all the teeth surfaces by laying the brushhead at the right angle against them. The electric brush takes care of the rest and can make correct brushing easier. Just make sure you’re not pressing too hard as this can damage your teeth and gums. Also keep in mind that the brush head wears out and require replacement every 3 to 4 months.
  • Using toothpaste is recommended as it can help scrub the plaque away better. It is best to use an ADA-accepted toothpaste containing fluoride. Make sure to only use a pea-sized portion. Spit the toothpaste out once you are done brushing since digesting it can cause fluoride toxicity.
  • You can supplement a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine if you choose to. Mouthwashes are more for cosmetic purposes as their effects only last for a few hours. Allow the mouthwash to sit on your teeth and gums and don’t rinse it off for best results.
  • As a bonus, brush your tongue as well to help remove odor bacteria for an even cleaner breath.
Make sure to brush your teeth long enough

Most dentists recommend that you brush twice a day, in the mornings and at night times. They also advise brushing for two minutes at a time. Cleaning all your teeth surfaces takes time. Rushing through it will make you miss crucial teeth surfaces and can lead to cavities.

  • Brushing in the mornings helps remove overnight buildups. It gives you nice, clean breath to get your oral health started on the right track. It also helps eliminate any bad breath bacteria that have built up on your teeth overnight.
  • Brushing before bedtime will make sure you don’t have any harmful plaque sitting on your teeth overnight. Any leftover bacteria on your teeth can damage your teeth for the whole time your are sleeping. That means eight hours of exposure to cavity bugs and the acids they produce! This is not good for your teeth or gums and you want to avoid this at all cost.

Incorrect Brushing Methods

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