What is Debridement?

In the dental industry, many words sound strange and potentially frightening. For example, you might hear the word debridement and think it must involve some horrible procedure. Debridement, however, is simply a procedure to get your teeth and gums to a state where your Yuba City dentist can maintain your oral health.

Having a good routine of oral hygiene is vitally important. Brushing twice a day, along with daily flossing, keeps oral bacteria from building up to unmanageable levels. When you go too long without your oral routine, however, plaque left by bacteria hardens and becomes tartar, which is much more difficult to remove. In some cases, tartar gets so built up that the dentist cannot even inspect the health of your teeth and gums because they are covered with tartar! This is where debridement comes in.

The medical definition of debridement is the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound. According to the ADA (American Dental Association), dental debridement is the removal of subgingival (below the gumline) and/or supragingival (above the gumline) plaque and calculus (another name for tartar) that obstruct the ability to perform an evaluation. Therefore, this procedure allows your dentist to see what’s going on with your teeth and gums. If your teeth reach a point where debridement is necessary, there are often other issues like cavities or loose teeth that need to be noted and addressed properly. Also, getting all the plaque, tartar and debris out of the way allows your gums to reattach to clean, smooth surfaces on your teeth. This typically leads to smaller gum pockets, eliminating areas where bacteria, food and plaque can hide from view.

Removing the Calculus

Debridement procedures often require specialized ultrasonic tools to break up the tartar. Scaling tools are also used to scrape away any remainders. The procedure is typically followed soon afterward with a scheduled deep cleaning – often referred to as SRP (Scaling and Root Planing) therapy. Debridement is usually outside the spectrum of your typical dental checkup or cleaning, so extra appointments, equipment, and cost might be involved.

After Debridement

Once the debridement and SRP therapy are completed, your dentist inspects your teeth and gums, and works with you to address any other issues that might be discovered. Depending on your situation, your dentist might prescribe a strong mouthwash to help your gums recover. You might experience some tenderness and discomfort in your gums for a while after the procedure. A debridement might be all you need to create a good baseline for your teeth and gums. Of course, maintaining a routine of oral hygiene ensures you’ll never need a debridement. If you have any questions about plaque or tartar buildup, or if you’d like more details on debridement, please call our office or schedule an appointment with your dentist at the Yuba City Dentistry Group.


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