General Dentistry & Cosmetic Dentistry located in Alexandria, VA
Regardless of how well you brush and floss at home, you still need to have professional dental cleanings if you want to maintain a healthy smile. Dr. Stella Kim provides professional dental cleanings for her patients at Oronoco Dental in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Kim will do everything possible to help you achieve and maintain your oral health goals.
Dental Cleaning Q & A
Why do I need a dental cleaning?
Even if you diligently brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and eat healthily, a professional dental cleaning is still essential for keeping your teeth, gums, and oral tissues healthy. There still might be places in your mouth that need to be cleaned.
What happens during a dental cleaning?
When you get a dental cleaning, your hygienist starts by carefully removing the tartar and plaque from your teeth. A special device called a Cavitron and instruments called scalers are used to scrape the buildup off your teeth until they’re clean.
Then your hygienist polishes your teeth with a gritty toothpaste and a high-powered toothbrush before performing a professional flossing. If you’re prone to cavities, already have extensive dental restorations, or if Dr. Kim thinks your teeth need extra protection, she might also recommend a fluoride treatment.
Once your teeth are clean, Dr. Kim conducts a routine dental exam by visually assessing your mouth, sometimes using an intraoral camera to aid her inspection. She may also periodically take digital check-up X-rays of your teeth to get a more detailed diagnosis.
What conditions do you check for during my dental exam?
During your dental exam, Dr. Kim carefully examines your mouth for any signs of:
- Tooth or root decay
- Gum or bone disease
- Oral cancer and other pathology
- Lesions or lacerations
- Shifting teeth or malocclusions (problems with your bite)
- Tooth infection
- TMD (jaw joint dysfunction) and facial muscle pain
If Dr. Kim spots anything concerning during her exam, she discusses the condition with you and recommends treatment options.
How often do I need a dental cleaning and exam?
Most people need a dental cleaning and exam every six months, but that varies from patient to patient. If you’re experiencing gum disease and bone loss, you might need more frequent and deeper cleanings. The American Dental Association recommends working with your dentist to determine a cleaning schedule that’s best suited to your particular needs.
What is a deep dental cleaning?
A deep dental cleaning is a specific procedure performed by your hygienist to treat gum and periodontal disease. It's often completed because a person has not had regular professional cleaning appointments every six months, which can result in loose gum attachment, deep pocket depth, tartar build-up underneath your gum, and bone loss.
Why do I need deep dental cleaning?
During your regular check-up visit with Dr. Kim, your hygienist will use an instrument called a periodontal probe to measure the area around your teeth to see if you have any pocketing (the area between the tooth and gum where bacteria will form).
The spaces of the gum tissue between the teeth and gums are called “pockets” when they are 5 millimeters or more. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that every adult receive a periodontal evaluation each year to determine whether additional treatment is needed.
Ideally, normal healthy pockets will be no more than 3 millimeters deep. If the pockets are greater than 5 millimeters, Dr. Kim might recommend a deep cleaning appointment with your hygienist.
How is a deep cleaning performed?
The official name for a deep cleaning is scaling and root planing. Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and from the pocket area between the teeth and gums. Your hygienist can perform scaling and root planing using ultrasonic instruments and manual scaling tools.
The other part of a deep dental cleaning is root planing. Your hygienist will use a scaling instrument to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the roots of your teeth. Dental scaling and root planing procedures may require two visits as an appointment.
If your pocket depth is very deep or problematic, Dr. Kim might recommend the use of localized antibiotics to be placed directly into your pocket after a deep cleaning. Your hygienist will review home care instructions and recommend certain hygiene equipment depending on your hygiene and gum condition.
What comes after a deep cleaning procedure?
After your deep cleaning appointment, the bacteria in the pockets of the teeth will be removed and in the next few weeks, the gums should become healthier if you have good oral hygiene.
Dr. Kim might recommend continuing with periodontal maintenance (basically dental cleaning for patients with periodontal disease) every 3 or 4 months.
Schedule your dental cleaning with Oronoco Dental today by calling the office or booking an appointment online.