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.
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.
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 is needing improvement. When the patient allows for this buildup to occur overtime, it can become very hard and makes it difficult for the dentist to gauge how your tooth structure andgum health are and what other issues might be lurking under the buildup of tartar. The buildup can not only grow 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 build up from your teeth. This machine uses vibration with water to break down the bonds of tarter and your teeth. In addition to pulverizing the calculus, the piezo can remove stain 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 these circumstance, your hygienist can use 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.
What happens after?
After a debridement, your hygienist will usually teach you how to properly care for your teeth at home, brushing two times a day for two minutes each time and flossing once a day. Then she will schedule you for your next step or appointment (cleaning, periodontal maintenance, etc), approximately 4 to 6 weeks later. This gives your gums time to heal up if they were swollen, and time for you to improve your at-home care, so that when you return, both the hygienistand possibly the dentist, can clearly see what is going on in your mouth and make proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
A debridement is nothing to be scared of but we do hope that from it, we can help you to improve your overall dental health, which will undoubtedly improve your overall comprehensive health.
As always, if you ever have any questions about this treatment, or any treatment, please don’t hesitate to ask any one of us!