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Re: Deep Cleaning
Apr 13, 2004
Hi Jody,

When they poked your gums with 'needles' what they were doing was measuring the depth of the pockets surrounding your teeth with a Periodontal probe. It has measurements in increments of millimeters. What this will do is tell the hygienist what state of health your gums are in. Generally, if the numbers are 1,2,3 the gums are healthy (barring recession) and anything above a 4 indicates areas of bone loss or gum disease. The higher the number (up to about 12 mm) indicate the worst areas of disease. Usually, if there are generalized 6mm and above or localized areas of 7mm or above then a deep cleaning is necessary. There are other factors but this is a basic idea. If you could remember the numbers they read or were told to you, that would help me a great deal.

So, back to the cleaning. First and foremost, the Sonicare is not the answer to everything tooth related. People sometimes think that the Sonicare will be the cure to every tooth related malady. However, if you went in and all they could do today was an exam and debridement, sounds like you had a tremendous amount of calculus or tartar buildup. Probably most of it was beneath the gumline and between the teeth especially. A general debridement removes the bulk of the buildup, allowing us to get a more accurate reading of the gums as well as a visual look for decay on roots, recession measurements and so on.

This in no way is an opportunity for us to make money off of you or anybody. I am well aware that it does cost a great deal of money, and I personally will work my butt off to keep the appointments down to help with the cost. Now, when you have years of build up on the teeth and covering the entire root surface it takes time to remove it. We cannot do a thorough job in an hour. If you hypothetically missed the last 3 years of cleanings, you have then missed 6 cleanings. That would be 6 hours of scaling. Or put that into a cost of $120 per visit or so. Thats a lot more than what you are paying now. Just in one lump sum rather than being spread out over the last 3 years. And for each cleaning you missed, that build up becomes harder and harder as more minerals become embedded in that buildup. I have seen tartar that could have passed for concrete.

So, the reason we break it up into quadrants for scaling is it allows us to thoroughly clean one area of the mouth at a time. Then we move on to the next. Sometimes anesthesia is required and that allows us to again do a good job and we cannot numb up an entire mouth.

If lets say you have not flossed your teeth regularly and that means at least several times a week then you will have massive build up between your teeth. On the xray if you ask you will likely see ledges of tartar between the teeth. Remember you are only able to see tartar on the xray between the teeth, but that same amount is covering the entire root surface. And if you have a tooth that has 7mm of bone loss that entire root is covered.

As far as the length of getting an appointment, are you requesting an evening? Most people that work 1st shift also ask for evenings, it is simply a high demand time. There are only so many hours available and to suggest that if this was so necessary why can't I get this done tomorrow, is not fair either.

Please also bear in mind this. Who's responsibility is it to take proper care of your teeth and gums? Sorry if I get a little cranky about this, but I have had so many patients like yourself who think that we are just in this for the money and that must be the only reason why we are telling you that this is necessary. What we hygienists do is NOT a cakewalk. After 10 years, I now have carpal tunnel in my wrists, arthritis in my neck as well as beginning of deteriorated disks as well. So, I would not subject myself to hours of unnecessary scaling to make a buck and I doubt other hygienists as well.

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