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Periodontal Therapy or “Deep Cleaning”?

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Many offices dumb down terms in hopes that patients will understand our advice. Is it possible that in an effort to be clear, we (as a profession) devalue what it is exactly that we are doing? We are finding that we have created misunderstandings. The truth is, there is no such thing as a “deep cleaning” in a dental office.

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A dental office is either cleaning teeth (polishing them up, removing stains, etc) or providing periodontal therapy.

This therapy is often called a “deep cleaning” but that isn’t really what is done. The goal here is to remove what is called the bio-film from below the gum line. The bio film is a collection of plaque and bacteria and it can create an inflammatory response from your body. Chronic inflammation can affect your entire body, and periodontal disease destroys bone around the teeth. If left untreated, you will lose teeth. If left untreated, you could die (I know, it sounds like an exaggeration, but just ask Whoopi Goldberg)

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The process for periodontal therapy WILL make a person’s teeth clean, and the process IS deeper than a “regular” cleaning, to call it a “deep cleaning” is not truly accurate…

Sometimes we get patients that will request a “regular” cleaning when a “deep cleaning” was recommended. While it would seem logical that you could request that, the laws are clear that the dental health care provider cannot violate standard of care, and a patient is not capable to waive the standard of care. Legal precedent has been set, and if a dentist has diagnosed gum disease, therapy must be performed even if a patient requests otherwise.

It is similar to a physician diagnosing an infection in your lungs. He cannot simply give an aromatherapy candle and ignore the infection. The patient has the right to decline care and leave, but the doctor cannot ignore the infection.

Dr Timmerman feels very strongly about this.  If you have periodontal disease, a gritty toothpaste cleaning will only be offered in ADDITION to therapy, not as a replacement.

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