Dental Debridement

When plaque goes uncleaned it builds up on your teeth. It becomes tartar, which is hard and more difficult to remove. A toothbrush cannot remove tartar buildup.

What is a dental debridement?

The American Dental Association defines debridement as “removal of subgingival and/or supragingival plaque and calculus which obstructs the ability to perform an evaluation.” Supragingival plaque/tartar is what is above your gum line, subgingival plaque/tartar is the harder to reach deposits that are below the gum line. This build up cannot only grow on your tooth surfaces but also grow under the gum line on the roots of your teeth.

What’s so important about dental debridement?

Typically, tartar and plaque buildup are removed at your yearly dental checkups. Unfortunately, if you have missed several checkups (been years since your last cleaning) or never had your teeth cleaned professionally, those tartar deposits can become so severe and stubborn that your hygienist must use an electric scaler (piezo scaler) to remove the buildup. This machine uses vibration with water to break down the bonds of tarter on your teeth. It also removes stains from tooth surfaces.

When is dental debridement done in the cleaning?

Debridement is done before your regular cleaning so that the dentist can have a complete view of your teeth without plaque and tartar getting in the way. This allows for proper diagnosing and treatment recommendations.

How often should my child have a dental debridement done?

A debridement is not something that you will receive regularly. Depending upon how much plaque, tartar and inflammation that you have, you may require additional appointments called “quad scales” after your debridement. Ideally, debridement/quad scales only happen one time to “catch you up”, allowing your teeth and gums to start to get healthy again.

Is there anything to be afraid of?

A debridement/quad scales is nothing to worry about. Sometimes, patients may have sensitivity in their mouth and around their gums due to the buildup. This buildup can cause gingival inflammation (gingivitis) and/or bone loss (gum disease). If you are sensitive during the procedure, the hygienist can use anesthetic for your comfort.

Is there any further protective habits my child can follow at home?

To help prevent tartar from building up again, be sure to follow the 2-2-2 rule. Visit your dentist TWO times a year, brush and floss TWO times a day for TWO whole minutes. If you stay on a regular dental schedule, then you should be able to just have a regular dental cleaning on your next visit.