Types of Dental Cleanings & When You Need Them

Types of Dental Cleanings & When You Need Them

You probably know about professional dental cleanings – hopefully, you’re getting those done twice a year. They are important to good oral health, but did you know that there are other types of cleanings as well, each with their own purpose? Read on to learn more about these cleanings and when you need to get them.

Prophylaxis (regular dental cleaning)

A prophylaxis is commonly referred to as a routine cleaning and is recommended to take place twice a year along with a dental exam. It is an important part of an oral health care routine. The purpose of a prophylaxis is to prevent dental problems, such as gum disease. It is performed on a healthy mouth, free of gum disease or bone loss. The procedure is usually performed by a dental hygienist and removes plaque, calculus, and stains on the teeth.

Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing

A scaling and planing procedure is more commonly known as a deep clean. It is a nonsurgical treatment performed to treat gum disease before it gets too advanced. If plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth for an extended period of time, it can harden into calculus or tartar, which is harmful to the gums. Some signs that a deep clean is needed include bleeding gums, red, puffy gums, bad breath, loose teeth or tooth loss, and gums pulling away from the teeth. The scaling and planing procedure removes buildup from the teeth as well as from between the teeth and gums from the roots. Following the treatment, a standard prophylaxis may not be enough any longer to maintain oral health. If that is the case, dentists and periodontists may recommend periodontal maintenance.


This treatment is needed if you have not visited the dentist in over a year. A debridement is actually not a cleaning but is a procedure that removes the heavy build-up of tartar so that the dentist can assess the condition of the gums, bone, and teeth.