Pain Free Dentistry

Why do Some Dental Cleanings Cost More?

Pain Free Dentistry

Why do Some Dental Cleanings Cost More?

A pink box of loose change, and stacks of change on a table with clear sunglasses

Not all dental cleanings are created equal. Find out why some hygiene appointments cost more, and learn how to save time and money in the dental chair.

fam brushing teeth

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, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, the buildup of tartar and plaque is too much to remove with the hand instruments that our hygienists use and, in some cases, requires 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 deep scaling. These cleanings remove the tartar that wedges below the gum line and irritates and inflames the gum, causing gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal 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.

Time to Deep Clean


Gingivitis can turn into periodontitis if left untreated, where tartar builds between the gum and tooth root, creating periodontal pockets that cannot be cleaned with regular at-home care. A more frequent care schedule and specialized equipment can remove the buildup and help the pocket stay clean. The tartar acts like a wedge between the tooth and gum, making cleaning harder. The only way to clean below the gum line is to have a qualified dental professional remove it with specialized equipment.

Once periodontitis progresses to a point where the bone starts to recede, it is considered an advanced periodontal disease, which includes bone loss due to extensive pocketing. This causes loose teeth, resulting in lost teeth and a shift in your bite if not properly taken care of. If too many teeth are lost, it can radically alter your bite and cause worse problems than a gap in your smile. At this stage, regular cleanings are no longer effective, and we may recommend one of many procedures to help manage the infection, like laser periodontal treatments, bone grafting, or time-release antibiotics placed in the periodontal pocket itself. Each of these treatments requires dedication to an excellent home care routine so the efforts of your hygienist and dentist don’t go to waste.

An Ounce of Prevention

Good oral hygiene is essential to prevent gum disease. You can maintain healthy teeth and gums by regularly visiting a dental professional for cleaning and adopting a proper home care routine that includes daily flossing and brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day. By investing a little extra time in proper home care and regular dental cleanings, you can avoid spending a lot of time and money on costly treatments in the future.

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