If you’ve spent years away from the dentist or simply got behind on your oral hygiene, your dentist might tell you that you need to have a deep cleaning. Many people say “but I just want to have my teeth cleaned like normal” without understanding the difference between the two types of cleanings and the benefits that one may have over the other.
A deep cleaning is technically referred to as a periodontal scaling and root planing procedure. This therapeutic cleaning is usually performed one quadrant of the mouth at a time, with one or two quadrants completed during each visit (depending on the severity of gum disease and number of teeth present.) Local anesthesia may be used as well, to keep the patient comfortable. During a deep cleaning, the large amounts of plaque and tartar deposits are removed from deep gum pockets caused by gum disease. More time is required due to the extensive depth of pockets and amount of build up present. Essentially, it is a treatment to help patients reverse active gum disease.
Routine cleanings are called prophylactic cleanings, which means they are preventive in nature. During a regular prophy (what most people know as a “cleaning”), mild to moderate amounts of buildup are removed along the gumline and out from shallow gum pockets around healthy teeth. A mild to moderate pocket here or there can easily be cleaned, but the time allotted for the appointment does not accommodate for a thorough cleaning of deep pockets throughout the entire mouth.
Your insurance company requires different codes for the two types of procedures. One is preventive, while the other is a treatment for a disease. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, so early treatment is important for a lifetime of healthy teeth.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Eberhard, Mockingbird Dental Associates
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