Why Do Some Dental Cleanings Cost More?

 In Gum Disease


Not all dental cleanings are created equal. So why do some dental cleanings cost more?

A “regular” cleaning is clinically called prophylaxis or a prophy cleaning and is a preventative measure to prevent periodontal disease. It includes removing plaque and tartar from tooth surfaces and just below the gum line. Sometimes the buildup of tartar and plaque is too much to remove with the hand instruments that our hygienists use. Some cases require the use of anesthetic and more than one visit, resulting in a costlier dental appointment.

This is when a “simple cleaning” goes from being a preventative measure to a treatment and maintenance measure. When this happens, you might be told you need a periodontal cleaning, root planing, or a deep scaling. These cleanings remove the tartar that wedges itself below the gum line and irritates and inflames the gum. Ultimately, causing what’s called gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease also known as gum disease. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums causing bleeding, red swollen gum tissue, and bad breath. A cleaning and more frequent professional hygiene appointments can treat and usually reverse this stage of gum disease so long as you follow a regular at-home maintenance routine and commit to a strict professional hygiene schedule.


If gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis. At this stage, tartar builds up between the gum and tooth root creating periodontal pockets that can no longer be cleaned with regular at-home care. A more frequent oral care schedule, usually every three to four months, and specialized equipment including ultrasonic scalers can remove the buildup and help the pocket stay clean, so no further damage is done. Think of tartar as a wedge between the tooth and the gum. The more it builds up, the harder it is for you to clean yourself. So, the more the tartar builds up, the more the gum is pushed from the tooth. It’s a cycle, and the only way to effectively clean below the gum line is having a qualified dental professional remove it with specialized equipment.

Once periodontitis progresses to a point where the bone starts to recede, it is considered advanced periodontal disease which includes bone loss due to extensive pocketing. This causes loose teeth which can result in lost teeth and a shift in your bite. If too many teeth are lost, it can radically alter your bite and cause worse problems. At this stage, regular cleanings are no longer effective. Moving forward, you will be recommended a treatment plan.


The good news is, gum disease can be prevented with regular professional cleanings and a good home care routine. That includes daily flossing and brushing for two minutes at least twice a day. So, A little extra time spent on proper home care and regular cleanings can help save a lot of time and money down the road.

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