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Is That Expensive Deep Cleaning at the Dentist Really Necessary?

First, a confession of guilt: I haven’t visited the dentist since the pandemic began. Despite my diligent cleaning and flossing, my teeth are terrible, and somehow the dentist always has bad news and a huge bill. In fact, the last time I did see a dentist, he insisted that I needed a costly deep cleaning that was not covered by my insurance rather than a standard one and gave me a very similar evaluation. I stormed out in a fury and looked for a new dentist since I was convinced it was all a scam.

Deep cleanings aren’t done frequently enough, according to Natalia Elson, a dentist and assistant professor at the College of Dentistry at New York University.

It is actually under-diagnosed and provided less than it should be because insurances do not cover it or partially cover, she says. 

Gum disease, sometimes referred to as periodontal disease, is widespread. In the early stages, gums may swell, turn red, or even bleed when you clean your teeth. However, in its more severe form, teeth may even come out, bone may be lost, and the gums may tear away from the tooth. Nearly half of adults over 30 have periodontal disease, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. For those over 65, that percentage rises to 70%.

Bacteria in the mouth are to blame for the disorder. The gaps under the gum line that surround the teeth are called periodontal pockets.

Those holes may develop hazardous germs that infect, irritate, and destroy the gum and tooth tissues. The pockets around teeth deepen as plaque continues to damage gum tissue and eventually bone.

A patient might follow all of a dentist’s recommendations and maintain great oral hygiene and still have signs of bone loss, Elson says. To eliminate bacterial levels and prevent bone loss, deep cleaning should be performed.

Elson continues by pointing out that there are links between periodontal disease and systemic illnesses that affect other organs including the heart and lungs.

Periodontal pockets should be thorough cleaned as soon as they measure 4 millimeters or more in depth. She claims that when there are indications of bone loss, the operation becomes medically important.

This procedure will save your teeth and prevent future investment in more expensive treatment to replace extracted teeth, like bridges and implants, she says. And the most important thing is that the patient will maintain good health.

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