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What Is Mouth Debridement?

A human mouth.
Mouth debridement involves deep cleaning of the teeth.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 30 June 2014
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Mouth debridement is a deep cleaning to remove several years of scale from the teeth. It may be necessary when a patient has not seen a dentist for an extended period of time. The basic surface cleaning will not be enough to remove all the scale and help the dentist determine if the patient needs additional oral health interventions. These can include another scaling session, fillings, or root canals to correct specific dental problems. This service takes longer than a regular cleaning and may be more extensive.

Also termed oral debridement, depending on the dental practice, this starts with a quick assessment from a dentist or oral hygienist licensed to perform such procedures. Many of the tools used in a regular cleaning, including picks and scalers, may be part of a mouth debridement. The dental provider carefully lifts deposits of plaque, tartar, and other scale on the teeth to expose the underlying surface, taking note of any problems that may be uncovered during the cleaning.

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This includes cleaning above the gum line on the visible portions of the teeth as well as below the gum line. Patients should be aware that their teeth may look relatively clean, but could have significant deposits of plaque and tartar below the gums that might compromise oral health. In a full mouth debridement, these are carefully removed. While the gum line is treated, the dental professional can also check for signs of damage to the roots of the teeth that might indicate a need for further treatment.

Patients may be uncomfortable during a mouth debridement because the procedure may take longer than usual, and the equipment used can be noisy. Some practices have earphones and entertainment available. Pain management may be offered if there are concerns about irritation to the teeth and gums. Some patients can also benefit from sedation to stay relaxed during an mouth debridement. The best option can be discussed when scheduling the procedure so the practice will be prepared to meet the patient’s needs.

After the procedure is over, patients can talk to their providers about any findings and recommendations. A followup root scaling may be recommended along with other treatments. Patients may also be advised to schedule tooth cleanings more closely together in the future to reduce the need for another mouth debridement. This can also promote long-term oral health by minimizing buildup on the teeth and protecting their roots from injury.

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