Skip to Content
chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up chevron-right chevron-left arrow-back star phone quote checkbox-checked search wrench info shield play connection mobile coin-dollar spoon-knife ticket pushpin location gift fire feed bubbles home heart calendar price-tag credit-card clock envelop facebook instagram twitter youtube pinterest yelp google reddit linkedin envelope bbb pinterest homeadvisor angies

Not Your Typical ‘Cleaning’

Occasionally, we have a patient in who hasn’t been to see a dentist in a few years. Sometimes, this patient may need a service before they can have their prophylaxis, aka “cleaning”. This service or treatment is called a debridement and we wanted to give a little more information about what this entails and why it is needed.

man looking at man's mouth

Debridement: What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

Often times when we recommend debridement to a patient, their first question is “What is that?”. A debridement is defined as the “gross removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) that interfere with the ability of the dentist to perform a comprehensive oral examination”. What this means is that there is a buildup of plaque and calculus that has started to imbed itself in and around the gums and between the teeth. It is so much that the gum tissue is extremely inflamed and swollen and the buildup needs to be removed before the hygienist can complete the prophylaxis and sometimes even before the doctor can complete an exam. Essentially, it is a preliminary procedure that is needed to complete the additional procedures that are proposed for the patient.

happy couple at park

Why Do I Need It?

Often times this happens when a patient hasn’t had regular dental cleanings in quite some time and their at-home oral care routine needs improvement. When the patient allows for this buildup to occur over time, it can become very hard and makes it difficult for the dentist to gauge how your tooth structure and gum health are and what other issues might be lurking under the buildup of tartar. The buildup can not only on your teeth surfaces but also grow under the gum line on the roots of your teeth. During your appointment, your hygienist will use an electric scaler (piezoelectric scaler) to remove the calculus or tartar buildup from your teeth. This machine uses vibration with water to break down the bonds of the tarter and your teeth. In addition to pulverizing the calculus, the piezo can remove stains from your teeth surfaces, leaving your teeth clean and your gums able to heal. In some circumstances, patients may have heightened sensitivity in their mouth and around their gums due to the build-up. In this circumstance, your hygienist can use an anesthetic for your comfort. Just be sure to ask them!

How Often Will I Need a Debridement?

A debridement is not something a patient will get regularly. Ideally, a debridement only happens one time, to get a patient back to a healthy foundation and then we return to regular cleanings (or periodontal maintenance if there is gum disease present). Generally, it is done one time and one time only.

Make an Appointment