WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ROUTINE CLEANING, SCALING AND ROOT PLANING, AND A PERIODONTAL MAINTENANCE CLEANING?

What? There are 3 different types of cleanings?
No, not really. 
There are actually 3 different procedures based on the health of your teeth and gums. The way we determine this includes:
   1. Measuring the space in between the gum and the tooth, as well as any recession around the tooth (you know- when we call out those numbers)
   2. Taking X-rays to see your bone levels
   3. Assessing the amount of bleeding present when we touch your gums 
Here’s the distinction between the 3 procedures and how we determine which which one is best for you.  
-ROUTINE CLEANING
   In this category less that 30% of the mouth shows bleeding, and periodontal measurements are usually no greater than 3mm. Since there is no disease present, this procedure removes plaque, calculus and stain ABOVE the gum line. This appointment supports health–healthy gum tissue, healthy bone, and healthy teeth themselves. 
   Although the most common frequency recommended for this type of cleaning is every 6 months, there are some situations in which we may recommend a 3 or 4 month recall. 
-SCALING AND ROOT PLANING 
   When bleeding and inflammation are present on the surface of the gums (gingivitis) for long enough, this bacterial infection can spread past the tissue and begin to destroy the bone that supports the teeth. This is now considered periodontal disease and the pocket measurements will read 4mm or deeper. We may also be able to see bone loss on your x-rays. 
   Once bone loss is present, the method required to remove the buildup and bacteria from UNDER the gums (and from root surfaces) is called Scaling and Root Planing. 
   So, rather than a “cleaning”, this is actually therapy to treat periodontal disease.
-PERIODONTAL MAINTENANCE CLEANING
   Since periodontal disease can fluctuate from being stable to active again (depending on a number of factors) we will consistently clean any deeper areas that may recur, working BELOW the gum line to help support and maintain the stability of the treatment. The frequency of this procedure is usually recommended every 3 to 4 months.
So I guess you could say:
   1. Regular cleaning=above the gum line
   2. Scaling and Root Planing=therapeutic treatment to remove disease below the gum line 
   3. Periodontal Maintenance Cleaning=supportive cleaning above and below the gum line to maintain periodontal treatment
Feel free to ask us any questions you have and see you next time!
Lorna Smith, RDH