Have you ever heard the numbers 3,4,3 while your hygienist is cleaning your teeth? How about larger numbers like 5, 6, or 7? How about hearing those numbers and your hygienist says you need a deep cleaning after you just had a cleaning?
I can understand why it this can be a bit confusing. Knowing a bit of dental background and dental anatomy can help to make it easier to understand.
Every tooth sits in a socket that is made with bone, ligament fibers, nerves, blood vessels, and gum tissue. The tooth has a very sophisticated connection to your jaw, and its is important for keeping the tooth for life.
As we eat food, bacteria develop on the surface of our teeth and gums. It is often called plaque. If bacteria are left on the tooth surface long enough, they can also become calcified and hardened, creating a barnacle of infection around your tooth. The tooth-gum connection is very sensitive to any bacteria invasion. When plaque starts to form, our body starts to mount a response by sending inflammatory agents to fight the bacteria. Unfortunately, our tooth-gum connection is very sensitive to this bacteria invasion, and inflammatory agents that are directed to the area. If plaque and calculus are left untreated, the inflammatory agents start to breakdown the tooth-gum connection. It is our body’s attempt to move the healthy tissue away from the growing infection. This means that our bone and gum attachment shrinks away from the crown of the tooth, resulting in reduced tooth attachment. As this process continues, we start to notice symptoms such as loosening teeth, teeth crowding, un-aesthetic dark triangles, bleeding, bad breath, and pain. This disease process is called periodontal disease.
The good news is there are ways to prevent this breakdown. There are simple preventative measures such as daily brushing, flossing, and regular hygiene appointments with your skilled hygienist. With the use of brushes, floss, and scalers we are removing the plaque film to stop this inflammatory process. In many cases, if not removed often and thoroughly, plaque and calculus will cause a “pocket” to form. Your gums and bone begin to slowly detach from your tooth and recede due to the plaque and calculus. Plaque and calculus will continue to grow in the pockets, deep down where your floss and brush simply cannot reach.
This is where the deep cleaning comes into play. Your hygienist needs to devote a specific time to work these troubled areas to clean the calculus and plaque. With complete removal of the bacteria we can see healing of the tissue, and reforming of a healthier tooth connection. By spending more time on these specific sites, we can help to protect the precious attachment from further loss.