Category Archives: Dental Conditions

The Difference Between Cleanings, Deep Cleanings & Periodontal Maintenance

dentist ready to perform scaling and root planingThere is more than one type of dental procedure that may be casually referred to as a cleaning. For example, there is a regular cleaning & then there is what is referred to a deep cleaning. It’s important to understand that there is a big difference between these procedures & implications that  each of these procedures have when it comes to your oral health.

Regular Cleaning or Prophylaxis

A regular cleaning, which is called prophylaxis by dental professionals, is what most people think of when they think of going to the dentist for a checkup. Prophylaxis involves removing plaque, calculus & stains from teeth. (Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up on teeth as a byproduct of bacteria feasting on the food you eat. Calculus, also known as tartar, occurs when plaque & minerals in your mouth harden.) A dental hygienist or a dentist uses a specialized cleaning device, called an ultrasonic scaler, to remove plaque & calculus. This cleaning occurs only on the visible part of the tooth, known as a the crown.

Regular cleaning is only recommended for patients who have generally good oral health & do not suffer from bone loss or gum problems (bleeding, recession, infection, etc.)

Scaling & Root Planing or Deep Cleanings

Root planing is a procedure that involves removing tartar, bacteria, toxic deposits from the root of a tooth, all the way down to where gum & bone meet. While it is sometimes casually referred to as a “deep cleaning”, you should know that this treatment is quite different from prophylaxis. This procedure is required as a treatment for periodontal disease or periodontitis (commonly called gum disease, though it also affects the bone).

Many people can have periodontal disease & not even know it. Symptoms of the disease include bleeding gums, bad breath, teeth that look longer due to recessed gums, & swollen or red gums. However, many people do not notice any symptoms at all. That’s why it may come as a surprise when your dentist recommends scaling & root planing instead of a regular cleaning. It’s important to understand that this procedure is vital to getting periodontal disease under control & avoid future tooth loss, though other procedures including surgery may be required to treat the disease.

Periodontal Maintenance

Once you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease & have undergone scaling & root planing, periodontal maintenance is what you can think of as taking the place of prophylaxis in your dental care routine. Rather than just addressing the just crowns of your teeth as in prophylaxis, periodontal maintenance also cares for your tooth roots, gums & bone. In other words, think of it as cleaning & maintenance for the tissues affected by your periodontal disease. The frequency of your periodontal maintenance appointments depends on your individual oral health condition & will be determined by your dentist.

What’s unique about Columbia #31:  Columbia has three artificial lakes: Wilde Lake, Lake Kittamaqundi, & Lake Elkhorn.

What Is TMJ & How Can a Dentist Help?

What Is TMJ

The temporomandibular joints are the joints on either side of your head that connect your jaw to your skull & allow you to open & close your mouth, chew, & speak. Because it can move in many different directions, these joints are some of the most complex in your body. Any problems with these joints are also referred to as TMJ disorder, or just TMJ.

Symptoms of TMJ

Symptoms of TMJ can include:

  • Jaw clicking, popping, or locking
  • Headaches or earaches
  • Pain when mouth is opened widely
  • Tenderness of jaw muscles

The cause of your TMJ can determine which or how many of these symptoms you have. At most dental checkups, your dentist or dental hygienist will check for tenderness in your jaw muscles to see if TMJ might be present.

Causes of TMJ

TMJ does not always have an obvious cause, but there are a few common possibilities for the origins of a TMJ problem:

  • Injury or dislocation
  • Teeth clenching (often from stress)
  • Arthritis
  • Poor tooth or jaw alignment

How Can a Dentist Help?

While many probably think of dentist as just teeth doctors, we can’t treat you properly without looking at your mouth as part of a system. That system definitely includes your temporomandibular joint. A dentist can help in diagnosing your TMJ disorder, & may also refer you to a physician or a specialist dentist for further diagnosis.

Because TMJ can be caused by tooth & jaw alignment problems, there are dental treatments that may help. Your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist for treatments like braces, which can help realign the teeth & the jaws so that your mouth can close in the proper position. Treatment form an orthodontist can alleviate TMJ symptoms in many cases.

If your TMJ comes from teeth grinding or clenching, your dentist may recommend that you wear a custom dental appliance. Often called a bite plate or a splint, this appliance will keep your upper teeth from grinding against your lower teeth. In addition to alleviating TMJ symptoms, this bite guard will prevent wear on your teeth from grinding that can lead to other problems.

Other treatments for TMJ include using hot & cold packs, taking anti-inflammatory &/or muscle relaxing medications, or learning relaxation techniques to reduce tension in your jaw muscles. In certain rare cases, TMJ may require jaw surgery to correct.

If you are concerned that you may have symptoms that indicate TMJ, please speak with your dentist about it. We want to get you relief from pain & discomfort as quickly as we can!

What’s unique about Columbia #6: Columbia is an alternate, poetic name for America that has been in use since before the Revolutionary War.