Gentle Professional Cleanings

staff giving a teeth cleaning

In a sense, your mouth is a window into your overall health.

No matter what your age, having your teeth professionally cleaned on a routine schedule is essential to maintaining your oral and general health. While good dental care at home is critical, it cannot substitute for a thorough cleaning by a professional.

Our hygienist has the skills and equipment to clean areas of your teeth that your toothbrush just can’t reach, and she is committed to providing you with a comfortable, pleasant cleaning experience in our office!

Professional cleanings remove tarter, plaque, and stains that have accumulated on your teeth—buildup that occurs even with routine brushing and flossing at home.


mouth illustration

Plaque is a sticky, invisible film that forms on your teeth after eating, and it’s full of bacteria that contain tooth-destroying acid. When allowed to build up, plaque doesn’t just decay your teeth, it damages your gums.

If allowed to advance below your gum line, the bacteria in plaque can cause infection in the pockets around your teeth, causing physical destruction of your bone and loss of attachment—and eventually tooth loss. Your gum tissue and bone are just as vital as the teeth themselves!


Regular Cleanings

mouth illustration with cleaning toolThe majority of our patients will fall into the category of a regular cleaning, or dental prophylaxis (prophy). During this appointment our hygienist will examine your teeth for areas of decay, loose teeth, broken teeth, damaged fillings, and signs of gum disease. Part of her exam will include taking intraoral photos, X-rays once a year or as needed, and probe readings around your teeth for pocket depth at least once a year.

She’ll use the Cavitron to remove plaque and tartar and remove stains by polishing with the Cavitron or Prophy-Jet. The Cavitron is a gentle ultrasonic instrument that literally vibrates the debris, tarter, and plaque off your teeth—even removing tartar below the gum line—at a speed much faster and more efficient than hand scaling. Unlike hand scaling, the Cavitron kills bacteria as it cleans.

Full-Mouth Debridement

If you have excessive plaque and tartar buildup around your teeth—which typically happens if you haven’t had a professional dental cleaning in several years—you may need a full-mouth debridement. A debridement is necessary when teeth are so deeply covered with plaque and calculus that Dr. Booth and his hygienist cannot check for decay, infection, or gum disease.

The procedure is like any other prophy with the exception of the time involved and the fact that an anesthetic, typically a topical numbing agent, may be used to numb the area. An anesthetic may be needed if you experience sensitivity due to tender, swollen, or recessed gums, or if you anticipate a degree of anxiety during the procedure.

You can also request Nitrous Oxide if you’re very nervous. We want you to feel relaxed and comfortable during your visit!

Our hygienist will use the Cavitron to perform the debridement, which typically will take about an hour. We will schedule an appointment for you to come back for a regular prophy approximately two weeks after the debridement. At that appointment, our hygienist will be able to complete her periodontal measurements and exam, and Dr. Booth will be able to complete his exam.

cleaning before and after photos

A full-mouth debridement is a one-time procedure and shouldn’t be necessary again if you maintain regular cleanings in our office!

Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)

We may need to do a deep cleaning—also known as Scaling and Root Planing—if you have plaque buildup beneath your gums and deep pockets around your teeth where your gum tissue has detached from the teeth. 

Scaling animation Planing illustration

Scaling and root planing is a nonsurgical method of removing plaque and tartar from the tooth and root surfaces, helping gum tissue to heal and periodontal pockets to shrink.

During the procedure, our hygienist will remove all plaque, bacterial toxins, and tartar deposits from your teeth and root surfaces using the Cavitron ultrasonic scaler. Root planing is when she smooths all the rough areas on your root surfaces, helping prevent bacteria, plaque, and tartar from re-adhering to the roots, which allows your gums to heal and reattach themselves more firmly.

Scaling and root planing usually requires three or more appointments to complete and will require a local anesthetic to numb the area for your comfort. Typically we perform the procedure on one fourth, or one quadrant, of your mouth at a time—upper right, lower right, upper left, and lower left. At times we’re able to complete two quadrants in one visit, depending on the number of teeth involved. 

Once all quadrants have been completed and your gum tissue has healed, we’ll bring you back for an appointment where our hygienist will perform a regular cleaning and take probe readings of your periodontal pockets, and Dr. Booth will complete your exam.

After this final appointment we’ll want to see you again on a three- or four-month basis for periodontal maintenance and regular cleanings to monitor your progress and maintain and improve your level of oral health.

Periodontal Maintenance

Periodontal maintenance appointments—once or twice annually— that alternate with regular cleanings are critical after you have undergone scaling and root planing. We want to prevent the reoccurrence of gum disease and plaque. These maintenance visits consist of routine cleanings and the careful examination of your gum tissue as well as measurements of your pocket depths and gum recession.

We’re here to help you achieve and maintain your best possible oral health—and keep you smiling. Having your teeth professionally cleaned by our hygienist is a way to start!