You'd been meaning to go to the dentist. But things kept cropping up - work, kids, school. Before you knew it, years passed by. You finally made it in for a dental exam, but now your dentist says you need a debridement in order to accurately assess the health of your teeth and mouth. Sound familiar?
If this has happened to you, you may be wondering a couple of things. First, what the heck is a mouth debridement? And second, why isn't a regular dental cleaning enough? The answers are pretty simple. A dental debridement is a procedure used to remove extensive plaque and tartar buildup - something that often happens when you haven't had regular teeth cleanings in a while. Because of these thick deposits, it's difficult for your dentist to gauge accurately whether tooth decay, gum disease or other problems are present and to what degree. A regular dental cleaning is great for removing minimal deposits but not aggressive enough to remove years and years of buildup.
As mentioned, a debridement is typically suggested for patients who haven't been to the dentist in a while. Without regular teeth cleanings, plaque and tartar can build up so much that it's difficult for your dentist to determine whether your bone and gum tissue are healthy. In many cases, buildup doesn't accumulate just on your teeth - it can affect the areas below the gum line, too.
In order for your dentist to conduct a thorough dental exam, he or she may first need to perform a mouth debridement to scrape the thick deposits off your teeth. It's similar to a prophylaxis, or teeth cleaning, in that your dentist or dental hygienist may use an electronic scaler to do the job.
But a dental debridement is more complicated and takes longer than a regular cleaning. Think of it as a preliminary or "first" treatment; you may still need a teeth cleaning, fillings or even a root canal afterwards, depending on what your dentist finds. If periodontal disease or gingivitis is apparent, you may need to undergo periodontal treatment or a scaling and root planing treatment. Regardless, a debridement is a good thing. It will get your teeth feeling cleaner and healthier than ever -- and there's nothing wrong with that!
After the deposits on your teeth have been scraped away, your dentist can now properly examine your teeth for an accurate assessment of your oral health. Oftentimes, the dental exam will be performed on a separate visit, following the mouth debridement. Depending on the health of your teeth, you may just need a regular teeth cleaning. If signs of gum disease are present, your dentist may advise a scaling and root planing treatment. Fillings may be required for teeth that have decayed. And in some cases, more extensive treatment is necessary, such as oral surgery.
Just as many people delay dental visits as those who stay on top of their dental health; in fact, studies say that only about half the American population sees a dentist regularly. So don't let embarrassment or shame keep you from getting the dental care you need.
Even if years have gone by since you've gotten a dental checkup and cleaning, it's not too late to get your smile back on track.