Hudson NH Dental Associates Dentists

Preventative Services :: Hudson Dental Associates


What is “debridement?”
A “debridement” is a procedure for removing thick or dense deposits on the teeth. It is required when deposits of plaque and calculus are too heavy to allow for an adequate exam by a dentist.

What are plaque and calculus?
Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that forms on teeth, regardless of what types of foods are eaten, which is composed of bacteria and bacterial by-products.

Calculus is also known as tartar and is a hard, mineralized deposit, somewhat like cement, that is formed from the plaque in the mouth and the minerals in a person’s saliva.

No dentist has ever told me that I needed a debridement before. Can’t I just have my teeth cleaned?
Throughout a person’s life many different conditions may arise. It may be that a person will not have had high cholesterol or high blood pressure before, but at their most recent medical check-up these conditions are discovered. Oral problems are no different. Situations and circumstances change. While it may seem trivial to worry about heavy deposits on your teeth, it is now known that oral conditions may be implicated in several general health disorders. Recent studies are beginning to show a relationship between teeth and gum health, and certain heart conditions and other systemic diseases. Dentists and hygienists are required to provide patients with the best information and treatment they know. It is their job. It is not proper to perform treatment that is inadequate or not appropriate.

What is the difference between a debridement and a “regular cleaning”?
A regular cleaning is known as prophylaxis in dental terms. It is defined as the removal of plaque, calculus, and stains from the tooth structure.

A prophylaxis is accomplished by using dental instruments that scrape away deposits from the teeth. An electric device, called an ultra-sonic or sonic scaler may also be used. This deposit removal is performed on tooth structures that have not been affected by bone loss, periodontal disease, or infection; typically the crowns of the teeth. A regular cleaning is recommended for persons who do not have dense deposits.

A debridement is recommended for persons who do have dense deposits of plaque and calculus. It is described by the ADA as removal of (heavy) plaque and calculus that interferes with the ability of the dentist to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation…(it is) a preliminary procedure that does not preclude (rule out) the need for additional procedures. Simply put, a debridement is necessary when dense plaque and/or calculus are present. Dental instruments and electric devices may also be used, but the amount of time needed to complete the procedure, as well as the difficulty and extent of the procedure are different.

Who will perform the debridement?
Your dental hygienist or dentist will perform this service.

What Happens after the debridement?
Typically your dentist will need you to make a future appointment for an examination. Remember that the debridement is necessary for both your health and the dentist’s ability to do an accurate exam. After your debridement, depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, you may need to have a regular cleaning; or you may require scaling and root planing or other more extensive gum and bone treatments. If you have decayed teeth, procedures for them will also be needed.

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