Dental Cleanings

Dental cleanings are important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums
The information below will help you understand the differences between types of cleanings and the role each can play in the prevention and/or treatment of dental disease. Your dentist will recommend the appropriate cleaning to suit your personal dental needs.

What is a Prophylaxis- D1110?
A prophylaxis, sometimes called a “regular cleaning,” is considered a preventive procedure where the dentist or hygienist removes plaque (bacterial film), calculus (tarter), and stains from above the gum line of the teeth. The dentist may recommend this procedure at regular intervals, possibly once or twice a year, for patients whose gum health is generally good (healthy gum color and texture, minimal plaque and debris, no bleeding and shallow gum pockets around the teeth).

What is Scaling and Root Planing- D4341/D4342?
Periodontal scaling and root planning is often called a “deep cleaning” A dentist will recommend scaling and root planning (SRP) when a patient shows signs of gum disease. These signs may include the finding of deeper gum pockets, loss of bone support for the teeth that is visible on x-rays, bleeding gums, and accumulation of plaque and calculus below the gums. SRP procedures are generally completed in quadrants (or sections of the mouth), and usually require the dentist or hygienist to numb the treatment area so that the crown and root surfaces of the teeth can be thoroughly scaled and cleaned. Usually, SRP is accompanied by the use of antimicrobials and/or antibiotics.

What is Periodontal Maintenance- D4910?
A periodontal maintenance (PMT) is a procedure that is recommended “following periodontal treatment (such as scaling and root planning or surgery) and continues at varying intervals, determined by the clinical evaluation of the dentist.” PM is important because gum disease will get worse without adequate follow up. PMT includes removal of plaque and calculus above and below the gums, polishing and is frequently accompanied by the use of antimicrobials and/or antibiotics. PMT is always performed following active periodontal treatment such as scaling and root planning or more extensive gum surgery, and continues for life.

What is a Full Mouth Debridement- D4355?
In occasions when there has been significant buildup of plaque and calculus, that makes it difficult to complete a thorough examination, the dentist may recommend full mouth debridement (FMD). FMD is the gross removal of plaque and calculus buildup from the teeth and gums. This procedure is considered a preliminary procedure that is generally performed prior to completions of an oral examination and diagnosis of periodontal conditions, and does not prevent the need for additional scaling and teeth cleaning procedures.

These are different types of cleanings and may fall under specific exclusions or fees with your insurance plan

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.

Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • any change in the fit of partial dentures

Some factors increase the risk of developing gum disease. They are:

  • poor oral hygiene
  • smoking or chewing tobacco
  • genetics
  • crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • pregnancy
  • diabetes
  • Lupus
  • HIV
  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease because the sooner you treat it the better. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Chronic periodontitis affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States. It can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. This is the most common form of periodontitis in adults but can occur at any age. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.

Aggressive periodontitis is a highly destructive form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy. Common features include rapid loss of tissue (gum) and bone and may occur in some areas of the mouth, or in the entire mouth.

Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Remember: You don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. Brush your teeth twice a day, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Oral Cancer Screening

A thorough examination of the oral soft tissues to evaluate possible lesions for cancer. These issues are most often associated with tobacco use or excessive sun exposure. The cancers most often appear on the lips or tongue. A sore or unhealed lesion that persists for more than ten days should be evaluated immediately.