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What Is a Mouth Debridement?

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Your body naturally produces plaque, the soft, sticky substance that coats your teeth. When plaque biofilm builds up along your teeth, it becomes tartar, also known as calculus, which is hard and requires a dental professional to remove. Both substances are typically addressed during regular dental hygiene appointments, leaving your teeth feeling completely clean.

Unfortunately, if you've missed several examinations, those deposits can become so severe and stubborn that your dental professional must use a technique called debridement. The need for a periodontal debridement treatment plan varies from patient to patient and requires serious considerations like medical history and consultations with the patient's physician.

If your dental professional suggests the procedure, don't worry. It's necessary for your oral health and can help put you back on the road to healthy dental habits.

Why Debride? What is it?

Periodontal debridement refers to the removal of subgingival calculus and oral biofilm and its byproducts while preserving as much tooth surface as possible. The goal is to disrupt biofilm, reducing it to a level compatible with health and resolving inflammation.

What Is The Process?

Supragingival plaque is the plaque above your gums, while subgingival plaque is the harder-to-reach plaque below the surface of your gums. Removing both types of plaque requires more time than traditional dental hygiene instrumentation. However, intensive debridement often requires the use of a special electronic tool that uses ultrasonic vibrations to break up calculus and remove plaque and biofilm retentive factors that contribute to periodontal disease so it can be removed and cleaned away.

Your dental hygienist will use the ultrasonic device first to remove the calcified tartar (calculus) and plaque that attaches to it. They will then continue by fine scaling the teeth and root surfaces.

How Is a Debridement Different From Other Cleanings?

Periodontal debridement is a specialized procedure designed to remove hard deposits and periodontal pathogens that cause inflammation and contribute to periodontal diseases such as gum disease and implant disease. This debridement procedure strives to restore gum health, and reduce inflammation and periodontal pockets. These changes occur within four to six weeks of healing. Your dental hygienist will schedule a periodontal reevaluation appointment to reassess these clinical signs of health.

In some cases, the dental hygienist will perform the debridement procedure on a quadrant or half of the mouth to make the procedure more comfortable or easier for the person.

How to Prevent Debridement

Fortunately, preventing the need for a full mouth debridement procedure is possible with regular dental hygiene practices. Plaque biofilm and tartar buildup are leading reasons for a full mouth debridement, so keeping your mouth healthy by cleaning between teeth and under the gum line can significantly reduce your chances of needing the treatment. Here are some other oral care tips for avoiding a full mouth debridement:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Avoid sugary foods and beverages.
  • Practice cleaning between your teeth daily with a water flosser, interdental brush, or floss.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months or after an illness.
  • Regularly visit a dental professional.

If it's been a while since you last visited a dentist, a full mouth debridement may help get you back on track. The procedure gives your dental professional a better look at your oral health. By ensuring you attend all your regular dental appointments, you can get rid of the excess plaque and tartar so your dentist and dental hygienist can continue to provide you with great care for a beautiful white smile.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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