All posts by Area Dental Clinic

Cracked Tooth? Use these Step-by Step Instructions

close up of mouth with dentist mirror looking for cracked toothCracked tooth injuries always come with a story, such as running into a teammate or enjoying a delicious (and hard) snack. Even extreme temperatures, teeth grinding, and age can cause a cracked tooth. No matter what the cause, the pain from a chipped tooth is real—and so are the questions that come with this common mouth injury. What should I do after my tooth has been injured? What should I do about the filling that fell out? Do I need to contact a dentist? What should I do with a lost crown? We’ve assisted numerous patients with a cracked or broken tooth, and have put together a step-by-step guide on what to do after a tooth is cracked.

Don’t panic.

This is an important step. Stay calm. In most cases, a cracked tooth or lost crown or filling can be repaired and the pain alleviated. With proper treatment, the damage is often not visible to others.

Determine the extent of the damage.

Immediately after the injury, evaluate the level of pain and amount of bleeding.

  • If there is a significant amount of pain, there may be damage to the nerve. Contact a dentist for an emergency appointment right away.
  • If there is bleeding, apply gauze to stop the bleeding. Do not apply topical pain reliever products to the area.
  • If the pain is intermittent, such as only during biting down or when exposed to hot or cold temperatures, bite down on a moist piece of gauze. Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth with the pain. Contact a dentist for an appointment.

Save the filling or crown.

If the cracked tooth involves a lost filling or crown, save the filling or crown.

Visit the dentist for treatment.

The specific treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the location, size of the crack, amount of damage, and the appropriate repair. The dentist may use terms like craze lines, fractured cusp, and vertical root fracture. Possible treatments include: bonding, root canal, filling, or tooth extraction. If the cracks are small, the dentist may decide no treatment is needed. Most treatments and repairs are long-term. Contact a dentist to find out what is the right treatment and get answers to any questions about the cracked tooth.

How can I protect my child’s mouth from sports injuries?

soccer ball being kicked by athlete with mouthguardCracked teeth, broken braces, and mouth cuts shouldn’t be a part of kids’ sports—but, sadly, they can be (and are). According to the American Dental Assistants Association, athletes have a 1 in 10 chance of getting injured in their mouth, face, or teeth.

How can we prevent sports injuries to the mouth and teeth?

While we can’t control what happens during contact sports like football, hockey, and basketball (though mouth injuries can occur during any kind of sport), there is equipment available that can help prevent painful mouth injuries.

  • Helmets. Helmets play a vital role in minimizing head and dental injuries. Depending on the construction of the helmet, these protective devices can shield athletes from hard blows (from another player, ball, etc.)
  • Masks. Depending on the sport, masks are standard equipment for all players or an option for certain positions, such as for a baseball pitcher. Masks protect players from contacts, such as a fast ball or a hard contact from another player.
  • Mouth guards. Mouth guards are one of the best ways to protect an athlete from dental injuries. These devices go around the top teeth and can help minimize injuries to the lower teeth, gums, nerves, and tissue. Athletes with braces can and should wear mouth guards because the mouth guards can prevent broken braces (and injuries stemming from broken hardware). If an athlete has another kind of dental appliance, contact the dentist to discuss the best options for a mouth guard that works with the appliance.

What kind of mouth guards are available?

There are several different kinds of mouth guards that can be purchased to protect an athlete from cracked or lost teeth, nerve damage, or mouth cuts.

  • Stock mouth guards. These off-the-shelf mouth guards can be bought at stores and are extremely affordable. Because of their standard construction, however, these mouth guards can feel extremely bulky and make it hard to breathe and talk.
  • Boil mouth guards. These protective devices are more customized than stock mouth guards, giving the athlete a more comfortable fit. Made of an extremely malleable material, these mouth guards are placed in hot water and then in an athlete’s mouth where they conform to the teeth and gums.
  • Custom mouth guards. Prior to the production of this mouth guard, a dentist takes an impression of the teeth (for that reason, contact a dentist about a custom mouth guard). The mouth guard is then manufactured for the mouth with customized specifications and with a flexible material. Because of the process, these mouth guards are very comfortable, making it easy to breathe and talk.

“I’m afraid to go to the dentist!”

Pretty girl sitting at the dentist's and having dentist appointmentA fear of the dentist is very real to those with dental fear and anxiety. Dentaphobia is also very common; some estimates put the amount of Americans with dental anxiety at approximately 30-40 million. A fear of the dentist can have some very unfortunate consequences; an unwillingness to go to the dentist can result in more dental issues and expense. Dental cleanings and exams can prevent tooth decay and problems that can progress into serious (and painful conditions). The good news is that there is hope for those dealing with dental fear and anxiety; use these tips to schedule and keep those dental appointments.

Choose a good dentist.

A good experience in the dentist office starts and ends with the staff and dentist. Select a dentist with the expertise and demeanor that puts every patient at ease. When sifting through customer reviews, look for dentists with reviews that refer to a dental fear and a good experience. If the dental fear is related to calling the dentist, add making online appointments to the criteria list for a good dentist.

Know the source of your anxiety.

There are numerous reasons behind a dental fear: a difficult past experience, fear of the cost, anxiety about the tools or the possibility of pain. Every patient has a different reason behind their fear. Identify the source of the dental fear and anxiety; this vital first step can help with forming a plan to help deal with any fears or anxieties. Don’t be afraid to be honest with the dentist and dental staff about the anxiety. Many dentist offices can take steps to assist patients with a dental fear. If sitting in a waiting room is a trigger for anxiety, arrive at the time of the appointment and notify the dental office of the fact and reason behind it.

Have a coping strategy.

Don’t wait to deal with dental fear; this can lead to putting off vital dentist appointments and care. Instead, take steps before and on the day of the appointment so the experience is positive and leaves a lasting good impression that carries over to the next experience.

Utilize relaxation techniques.

Relaxation is the key to a pleasant experience; learn relaxation techniques before the day of the appointment. Don’t hesitate to use deep breathing or use another relaxation technique at and before the appointment. Think positive thoughts and reminders before and in the dentist office. If the fear is related to anxiety about pain, discuss options for pain treatment and sedation with the dental staff before and at the appointment.

Distract, distract, distract.

Distractions are a powerful tool when dealing with a dental fear and anxiety. Bring along music and earphones, a book on tape, or a stress ball that can take the mind off the procedure. A friend or family member in the office can also be helpful with reminders to be calm.

Get a quote.

One of the most common dental fears revolves around the cost of the appointment. This fear can also be appeased with advanced preparation. If dental insurance is available, call the insurance company to verify that the dentist is within network (if applicable) and that the procedure is covered. In either case, contact the dentist before the appointment to get a quote that can be used for approval by insurance or for the purpose of putting funds away for payment. A dental savings plan can assist with the savings process. Look for a savings plan with minimal waiting periods and priori authorizations. Be cautious about plans with a yearly maximum allowance or a large amount of paperwork.

Contact a counselor.

Don’t let a dental fear delay vital oral health treatment. If needed, search for an expert that can assist with developing a strategy for coping with a dental fear and anxiety.

10 Tooth-Healthy School Lunch ‘Musts’

Four schoolkids looking at camera while having lunch during breakThe first day of school is fast approaching, and so is the daily question that every parent faces: what do I pack for lunch today? What can I pack that’s healthy and filling? Most mornings, you need to make the decision quickly (and sometimes in the middle of a chaotic mad house!). We’ve put together a list of school lunch options that can help make the process easier—and the decision less painless—so your kids can get through the school day (and year) healthier and full.

Cheese

Cheese is an excellent source of calcium which can strengthen tooth enamel and bones. Look for a low-skim cheese that your kids can enjoy and benefits their health. This dairy product is also typically a kid favorite, making it a win-win for everyone.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is full of protein (and also a great option for picky eaters!). It is also very filling and a great way to get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables; many kids won’t eat apples or celery on their own, but dig in when they are dipped in peanut butter. Shop for a natural peanut for a low-sugar option that is healthier for their teeth.

Water

Most kids can’t (or won’t) take a toothbrush to school. Water is a great alternative because it can wash away the sugar and bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Avoid waters that are sweetened with sugar; sugar from these drinks can cause cavities (though many sweetened waters are healthier than soda).

Carrots

Carrots are crunchy and packed with vitamins, making them another weapon in the fight against tooth decay. Crunchy foods can stimulate the production of saliva that washes away the sugar and bacteria that combine and decay teeth.

Apples

These kid-favorite fruits are sweet and high in fiber and other vitamins and nutrients (plus they are crunchy which activates saliva!). Be cautious about packing squeezable apple sauces too often; these products can flood teeth with sugar. For the same reason, avoid fruit snacks and leathers which can stick to teeth and hasten tooth decay.

Milk

Dairy milk is rich in calcium, which is an important mineral for strengthening tooth enamel and washing away bacteria that can cause tooth decay. For best results, pack white milk instead of chocolate or flavored milk which tends to contain more sugars.

Whole-wheat bread (or wrap)

The sugars in carbohydrates can play a significant role in the perfect storm that causes tooth decay. For that reason, keep the amount of carbohydrates (i.e. pretzels, crackers, etc.) to a minimum. However, breads and wraps are a popular main course for students; choose a whole-wheat bread or wrap which is a healthier option than white breads and wraps.

Yogurt

As another calcium-rich food, yogurt can play a key role in strengthening tooth enamel and bones. Yogurt also comes in many different kid-favorite flavors; some yogurts also contain fruit which is a vital part of a healthy diet. When grocery shopping, seek out low-sugar yogurts that are better for teeth health.

Celery

Celery is the vegetable-equivalent of a dental scraper because it is so crunchy. To make it more appealing, add (low sugar) peanut butter and a few raisins for a yummy treat (commonly called ants on a log).

Boiled Eggs

Protein is another major player in strengthening tooth enamel. This nutrient also develops and repairs tissue, an important part of a growing child’s development. When boiling eggs, make sure the eggs are completely cooked and refrigerated properly. Then, sit back and watch your kids grow health and strong—with annual doctor check-ups and regular dental cleanings and exams, that is.

8 Quick Tips to Stay Cool on Hot Days

girls trying to stay cool in the sprinklerWhen the temperatures rise, staying cool may feel like a luxury. In reality, though, keeping cool is actually an important part of staying healthy and keeping heat-related emergencies at bay. Summer is too beautiful to spend in urgent care! These ‘stay cool’ can help you get through the steamiest days and keep you from dealing with painful heat cramps, exhaustion, and heatstroke. (Seek medical help immediately if you are experiencing dizziness, headache, hot and red skin, or any of these other symptoms of a heat-related emergency.)

Choose your clothing carefully.

Lighter fabrics and colors are your friend when the temperature rises. Shy away from dark colors, like black and navy blue, and favor loose-fitting and lighter-colored shirts that don’t absorb the heat.

Use fans.

If you have ceiling fans, set them to run in a counter clockwise direction. This simple step directs the cool air down on you and keeps you cooler.

Stay hydrated.

When you are heading out into the heat, keep water and sports drinks on hand at all times; poor hydration can play a significant part in causing heat cramps and other heat-related health issues. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine. Don’t forget to keep a bowl out for your furry friends too!

Head to the pool.

Even a kiddie pool can be a godsend when the mercury spikes. Take a dip in the pool or use a sprinkler to cool down on hot summer days. Make sure you apply sunscreen before you head out into the sun and reapply as needed throughout the day.

Ventilate.

If you don’t have air conditioning (or don’t want to turn it on), tap into a natural cooling course: outdoor winds and breezes. Be strategic. Open windows that capture the breezes and ventilate the house. Close curtains and blinds on sides of the home where the sun shines in so your home is not acting like a greenhouse.

Keep the baking to a minimum.

To keep your home cooler, resist the urge to do a lot of baking on the hottest days. Try to use an outdoor grill that keeps the heat outdoors and your home cooler.

Eat lighter meals.

Avoid hot and heavy meals. Plan to eat lighter meals that are cooler and better for the body on hot days.

Schedule accordingly.

When the weather forecast shows sweltering temperatures, plan your day so that you are indoors during the hottest times of the day. If you have to be outdoors, avoid activities that could cause heat-related emergencies.

8 Tips for Enjoying Your Next Dentist Visit

Pretty girl sitting at the dentist's and having dentist appointmentYour next dentist appointment should be anticipated, not dreaded or feared. If your emotions fall with the latter, chances are you have a reason behind your reluctance to go to the dentist. You’re worried about what your dentist is going to tell you. You don’t have insurance. You’re just not looking forward to it.

Your dentist appointment doesn’t have to feel like the proverbial root canal. A dentist appointment can actually be a pleasant experience, especially if you use these tips.

Choose your dentist carefully.

Obviously, we usually look forward to seeing people we are comfortable with; that definitely applies to your dentist. Find a dentist that you want to see at your next dentist appointment; someone you trust with the care of your mouth and are comfortable talking to about oral health concerns (and any anxieties or fears you have). Search for dentists that get good online reviews, are highly recommended by friends and family, take your dental insurance (if you have it), and make you feel comfortable and at ease.

Face your fear.

An estimated 30-40 million Americans have a fear of the dentist. Unfortunately, that fear can stand in the way of regular dental care and lead to a host of dental issues. If you have a dental phobia, select a dentist that calms your anxiety. Be upfront with the dentist about your fears (even before you come in, like when you make the appointment); they may recommend certain tactics for dealing with your fear.

Know exactly how much you owe.

One of the most common reasons for avoiding the dentist is the cost. Like a fear of the unknown, it’s hard to walk into the dentist office not knowing how much it is going to cost for dental care. Instead, contact the dentist office before your appointment. Ask for an exact quote for dental care, and be very clear with staff that you need them to stay within the scope of work. To alleviate the impact of the cost, ask your dentist if they offer a health savings plan that allows you to save funds for all dental work.

Keep up with your brushing and flossing.

“What is the dentist going to tell me? What if it’s a cavity?” Another common concern is fear of what the dentist might say. While you can’t control many dental problems, you can keep up with regular brushing and flossing. Brush twice a day, and floss often. Use a fluoride rinse to strengthen teeth so you can feel secure in the fact that you’re doing your best to keep serious dental issues at bay.

Bring along a support system (if needed).

It’s okay to bring along someone to hold your hand, especially if you are anxious about the experience. Bring along a family or friend who you trust and can put your mind at ease during the appointment. If you are nervous that you won’t feel up to voicing any questions or concerns, have your friend or family member read the issues off the list to the dentist.

Schedule your appointment for a “less busy” day.

Your dentist appointment is going to go more smoothly if you are in the right state of mind when you walk in the door. Schedule the appointment for a day when you are not in a hurry or stressed and can prepare yourself for the dental appointment.

Take along a book or soothing music.

It’s okay to distract yourself while in the dentist chair. While you can’t answer e-mails or play games on your phone, you can take along a book to keep your mind off of your anxiety and soothing music to ease your stress during your appointment.

Have a list of questions and/or concerns.

One of the biggest disappointments that can accompany a dentist appointment is feeling like you didn’t have all your questions answered and concerns addressed. When you go to an appointment, have a list of questions and concerns prepared and ready for the dentist. A few minutes of planning can leave you feeling satisfied with your dentist and your experience.

5 Common Sensitive Teeth Myths Exposed

Young parents with their little son eating ice cream with no painful sensitive teethPainful sensitive teeth are a common condition. Unfortunately, the condition is as common as the myths that can exacerbate and prolong the pain of sensitive teeth (if believed!). Don’t fall into the trap of believing these common sensitive teeth myths, which can keep you from finding relief from painful sensitive teeth.

Only cold foods cause sensitive teeth.

This myth is partially true. Cold foods are one of the triggers of sensitive teeth, but not the only. Acidic, sweet, or hot foods can also bring on the pain of sensitive teeth. In addition, there can be a number of underlying reasons for your sudden sensitive teeth, such as a damaged tooth, loss of tooth enamel, or receding gums. These conditions require dental care, so don’t just assume that your problem is sensitive teeth and you have to tolerate the condition. Visit your dentist to verify that you don’t have any of an underlying dental condition that’s causing the discomfort.

I just have to deal with my sensitive teeth.

There is hope for sensitive teeth sufferers, though the relief depends on the cause. Desensitizing toothpastes can alleviate some of the pain; ask your dentist for recommendations. Your dentist can also determine if a dental condition, such as an undiagnosed cavity or teeth grinding, is exacerbating the condition and treat the dental issue. If the cause is teeth grinding, or bruxism, a mouthguard and avoiding caffeine can stem future damage.

The pain from sensitive teeth goes away.

Sensitive teeth are not a random issue that comes on and goes away. The pain from sensitive teeth occurs when the enamel wears away or gums recede, exposing the dentin of the tooth. Once the dentin is exposed, the problem does not just rectify itself without a diagnosis and action. Visit the dentist to determine the cause and treat the issue.

Sensitive teeth don’t lead to any really bad dental problems.

In most cases, sensitive teeth does not progress and causes more serious dental issues. However, when the cause of the sensitivity is an underlying condition, sensitive teeth are a signal of what is to come. An undiagnosed condition can progress, leading to gum issues, tooth loss, and damaged teeth.

Brushing and flossing harder makes sensitive teeth less painful.

Sensitive teeth are not caused by dirty teeth or from soft brushing. Aggressive brushing and flossing can actually wear down enamel, making the sensitive teeth worse. To the contrary, purchase a soft-bristled toothbrush after receiving the diagnosis of sensitive teeth. Brush in soft circular strokes with a toothpaste specifically produced for those suffering with sensitive teeth. Add fluoridated products to your oral hygiene routine; fluoride can strengthen enamel and alleviate the pain of sensitive teeth.

Tips for Whiter (and Healthier!) Teeth

Beautiful girl is showing her white teeth after teeth whiteningWhite, healthy teeth is not an oxymoron—or at least it shouldn’t be! That’s the good news, though it does come with a note of caution. Just type “whiten teeth,” into an internet search browser and pages of promises pop up, all with natural solutions that instantaneously whiten teeth. However, all those promises should come with a note of caution. Many of these solutions can wear down the enamel and cause short- and long-term damage to teeth. That’s why we put together a list of tips to get white teeth without risking the health of your teeth.

Limit those yellowing foods and drinks.

Some of our favorite food and drinks, such as blackberries (or any dark berries), coffee, and soda, are the biggest culprits in yellow teeth. Limit how much you consume; when you do indulge, drink water and brush your teeth as soon as you can (especially after a soda, which is a proven source of cavities).

Give up tobacco.

There are a lot of good reasons to stop smoking or chewing tobacco, both funds (saving money!) and health wise. Quitting smoking decreases the risk for many health problems, and it also eliminates one of the chief causes of yellow teeth. The nicotine in tobacco is colorless until it comes in contact with oxygen, causing your teeth to yellow. In addition, the tar in tobacco causes dark stains that can be difficult to remove. To get whiter teeth, quit tobacco use (these tips for quitting smoking can help) and remove the source of yellow teeth.

Brush and floss twice a day.

Regular oral hygiene plays a significant role in keeping teeth healthy AND white. Brush teeth at least twice a day, and floss before or after brushing; the order doesn’t matter, as long as flossing is done. To get rid of surface stains, purchase a whitening toothpaste; look for the American Dental Association seal of approval to buy a reputable and effective product.

Know that dental work may not cooperate.

Fillings, crowns, caps, and other dental work do not whiten as other normal teeth do. If the teeth are different colors (such as brown and yellow), the teeth might whiten to different shades as well. Likewise, teeth discolored by medications or an injury may not whiten (or may whiten less) than normal teeth.

Be careful about natural and over-the-counter whitening products.

It can be really tempting to purchase any of the numerous whitening trays or rinses. Be careful. Using teeth whitening products too much or outside of the label can damage your teeth and gums or lead to injuries, such as chemical burns or loss of enamel. Trays do not always fit properly, applying the product to other areas of the mouth.

Natural home remedies come with a similar disclaimer; certain household products, especially acidic ones, can wear down the enamel in your mouth.  Be cautious when mixing or applying these remedies that can do more harm than good.

Talk to your dentist.

The right dentist is a trusted professional, which is precisely why you should consult your dentist before starting any whitening program (even natural whitening remedies). Your dentist can give you advice on what to do about dental work, whitening products that won’t damage the enamel, and treat and repair any dental problems prior to whitening (for example, cavities should be filled before using a whitening product).

6 Reasons Your Tooth Hurts

dentist with xray of teeth from patient with painful tooth“My tooth hurts so much I can’t eat or sleep.” “On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain is a solid 7.” A painful tooth doesn’t have to be off the charts to interrupt your daily activities. It just hurts—and it’s natural to want to know why.

We’ve compiled a list of common reasons that a tooth hurts, but it comes with a (small) disclaimer. If the pain gets worse, doesn’t allow you to eat or drink normally, or doesn’t go away, contact a dentist or doctor to resolve the issue and ease the pain.

Cracked or chipped tooth

A tooth injury doesn’t always occur from a fall or a hit from an object, and it’s not always the most painful. However, when the nerve becomes exposed, a cracked or chipped tooth can really hurt. The pain and the tooth doesn’t get better on its own. Make an emergency appointment with the dentist to repair the damage and ease the pain.

Sensitive teeth

If the tooth pain comes after eating hot or cold food, the cause could be sensitive teeth (or a cavity). A visit with your dentist can give you the exact cause.

Sensitive teeth are caused when dentin, the material that makes up the majority of the interior of your tooth, is exposed and becomes irritated or sensitive. Sensitive teeth can be caused by a damaged tooth, loss of tooth enamel, teeth grinding, or receding gums. If sensitive teeth are the cause of the pain, ask the dentist for sentivity toothpastes and fluoridated products that they recommend. Use a soft-bristled tooth brush when you brush and avoid the kind of food that causes the pain (i.e. acidic foods, extremely sweet foods, very hot or cold foods).

Cavity

A cavity is a hole in your tooth; when the hole is deep enough and exposes sensitive parts of the tooth, a cavity can cause tooth pain (and sensitive teeth). (A cavity may also be present without pain.) Contact a dentist who can tell you if the source of the pain is a cavity. Pain relievers can help with the pain, but make sure that not feeling the pain doesn’t delay your visit to the professionals.

Sinus Infection

If you are already sick, the cause could be a sinus infection. The symptoms of a sinus infection include sinus pressure, congestion, fever, tiredness, coughing, and teeth pain. When the sinuses are infected, the pain can extend clear down to the teeth. Many people suffering from sinusitis (sinus infection) can find relief with over-the-counter medications to decrease the inflammation and decrease the pain.  If the sinus infection worsens, contact a doctor for an exam and antibiotics to fight the infection.

Toothache

Toothaches can be incredibly painful, and can occur from a number of different causes. No matter how much it hurts, DO NOT apply heat to your mouth as treatment, even if it brings temporary relief, as heat can cause swelling and make your toothache worse. Instead, apply an ice pack on the side of the mouth where the pain is most severe.

Contact a dentist to get the root cause treated and avoid anything (i.e. food, vibration, pressure to that side of your mouth, etc.) that makes the pain worse. Use over-the-counter medications to treat your toothache, but be careful to follow directions—and only use medications that won’t counteract with any medication you take on a regular basis.

Gum disease

Gum disease inflames the gums and causes a host of problems, including pain, bleeding, bad breath, swelling, sores in the mouth, and loss of teeth. When the gum disease causes a recession of the gums, nerves can become exposed and cause pain. If you even suspect gum disease is the cause of the pain, contact the dentist immediately. The doctor can recommend ways to treat the pain, and halt the progression of the gum disease.

Why do I need a dental cleaning? (And what kind of teeth cleaning do I need?)

woman getting a dentist exam and teeth cleaningBrushing your teeth twice a day? Great! Flossing on a regular basis? That’s awesome! Regular brushing and flossing is a vital step in the fight against cavities and gum disease, but it’s only part of the battle.

Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque, tarter, and bacteria can build up in your mouth. All these factors can create the perfect storm (as well as sugar) that cause dental problems like cavities and gum disease. If left untreated, cavities and gum disease can lead to costly dental procedures and the loss of a tooth (or many teeth). Brushing and flossing can remove some of the plaque, tarter, and bacteria—but not all (and sometimes not even most of it).

Regular dental cleanings give your mouth a deep clean (gums and teeth), removing as much plaque, tarter, and bad bacteria as possible. In addition, a dental cleaning also removes stains on teeth (i.e. from coffee, wine, etc.) and freshens breath. Dental cleanings can halt the progression of serious dental problems (i.e. cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, etc.) and save you from paying for fairly costly dental procedures.

The general rule of thumb for teeth cleanings is that patients should schedule a dental cleaning once or twice a year. This guideline applies to patients who do not exhibit signs of gum disease or bone loss in the mouth. These patients receive the most common dental cleaning called prophylaxis.

Just as with everything in life, the general rule of thumb (once or twice a year dental cleanings) applies to some people but not to everyone. For others exhibiting early signs of bone and gum disease or battling gum disease, a more intense deep clean is recommended—and more often than twice a year. There are two kinds of deep dental cleanings offered for these patients:

Root planing and scaling

Root planing and scaling is not only a more intense dental cleaning than prophylaxis, it also covers more of the mouth. Root planing and scaling cleans your mouth from the top down to the roots, removing plaque, tarter, bacteria and diseased deposits from the mouth. This kind of cleaning is recommended for patients showing the signs of bone and gum disease and should be scheduled as often as the dentist recommends.

Periodontal maintenance

Periodontal maintenance is not a single dental cleaning appointment, but a series of dental cleaning and therapies. These appointments can be scheduled as often as every three months and are performed to stop the progression of gum disease. Because these deep cleanings remove the bacteria, tarter, and plaque and remove diseased tissue, patients need to make every effort to keep the appointments. Periodontal maintenance also maintains healthy gums and sustain bone structure. If your dentist recommends periodontal maintenance, check with your insurance for coverage details.