Dental Deep Cleaning: Is It Ever Necessary?

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Dental Deep Cleaning Is It Ever Necessary - Epping, Wollert, South Morang, Melbourne - Northern Dental Design
In the 1970s when hair was long and everywhere, the public perception of dentists ranked them second only to clergy in the trustworthy stakes. In some ways your dentist was more mysterious and authoritative than your GP. Certainly, he (because female dentists were rarer than hen’s teeth) had much scarier equipment and better magazines in the waiting room.

Although incredible innovations for pain-free treatments and more sophisticated technology has improved and altered many dental therapies and procedures, the yin of this yang has brought us to a place where dentists are closer to used car salesmen in the zeitgeist of Gen-Google and its motley crew of predecessors.

How this happened is a convoluted conga line of professional pride, and prejudiced health insurance. This long-running game involves all participants – the entire oral health profession, patients, and all private health cover agencies – in the once-popular limbo: you know, where Afro-Caribbean drum patterns urge rhythmic moves and Chubby Checker cries, “How low can you go?”

This capitalistic, consumerist world that wrecks our planet and mauls our mass moral compass harpooned us right through the 1980s of ‘Greed is good’ to ‘Greed is god’. We now care so little for critical thinking and fact that the accepted Gordon Gecko quote from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is fake. He actually said, “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right.”

Details schmetails; we get the gist and whatever’s true will show up in a Facebook feed and punch a few rounds in the twittersphere. We’ve lost sight of the idea that just because something’s accepted doesn’t mean it’s right. Look at Trump, Bojo and Scomo. Sounds like the Three Stooges rebooted, which it was – only it wasn’t; then they were all booted.

Assuming ‘greed is god’ is the nature, the ‘upsell’ is the nurture. It’s a word that makes its very first appearance in 1864 – and most likely as a surname – it was an era when people simply wanted and bought what was available. In a corpus of books since, there is nothing discernible about the term until 1977; from that point on its usage and practise is exponential.

A cynic may suggest a possible relationship between the downfall of dentists and the uprise of the upsell. After all, it’s the same time McDonald’s started asking, “Do you want fries with that?” and the average BMI of the average person blew out from 25 to a currently astounding 29.

Fat chance any business isn’t looking to increase; it negates the whole reason for having one. Health is a business. Countries are corporations, people and children and pets are commodities – it’s a whole world of exploitation. Just ask Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Depending on the day you could ask Elon Musk. They could all be on Oprah if it was 2011 and her Number 23 standing on the Forbes List didn’t insult them.

By and large dentists are between a rock and a hard place. As a patient, would you prefer an Audi in their car space, or a Jag? And yes, that’s a trick question. Jags are not the choice of this writer. If you’ve chosen a dentist with one it’s because you like your appointments cancelled because of the latest urgent safety recall (jks). I’d have said “drives one” but in the Fred Flintstone sense it doesn’t really count.

Clearly, you’re not serious about your oral health.

If you think Audi is the right answer, it’s not the answer to anything; except, “Have you ever really seen lipstick on a pig?” (jks) Hopefully you understand much more about your teeth than you do about cars.

Like your dentist should. So don’t decide that what they drive means anything. Unless it’s a Segway PT. There’s not enough therapy in the world to sort that out.

Dental Deep Cleaning Is It Ever Necessary - Epping, Wollert, South Morang, Melbourne - Northern Dental Design

Dental deep cleaning is the user-friendly term for scaling and root planing which sounds much more sporty, outdoorsy and extreme than should be allowed – and only one of those descriptors applies. It’s a non-surgical procedure in the treatment of gum disease that can be performed by skilled dental hygienists and general dentists, or a periodontist should their extensive training in gum tissue and bone be required.

The treatment itself involves the use of a local or topical anaesthetic because of the discomfort of intervention below the gum line. Scaling is the removal of soft and hardened plaque (tartar) down to the base of the tooth where it sits in the gum pocket. Root planing is the smoothing of the surface of the root of the tooth. This is done to prevent the recurrence of tartar build-up and encourages gum tissue to reattach more firmly.

So yes, it can indeed be necessary.

What makes it unneccessary is if you have healthy gums, no visible calculus and a probe score of 2 or 3 millimetres.

This is normal, uncompromised, healthy gum tissue.

Unfortunately scaling and root planing (or dental deep cleaning if you prefer to not feel like a fingernail on chalkboard is happening) is far too commonly up-and-over-sold. For bleeding gums from brushing or flossing, it’s usually the right call and a useful treatment for the prevention of periodontal disease.

But if there have been no symptoms and it’s an unexpected diagnosis get a second opinion. If it’s a professional opinion in opposition to the first, then get a third if you are in fact unfamiliar with the first two dentists, and neither has come through the recommendation of a trusted person in your life.

Health insurance companies can, and do forge group agreements with businesses or unions and offer deals to dentists on behalf of their members.

Agreeing to their approved fees can fill their appointment books, but volume doesn’t make up for the discount they’ve consented to. Often it’s break-even for them – unless there are treatments or cosmetic procedures carried out that aren’t covered by the patient’s policy.

Unethical dentists will go for broke on this – or go broke. Bleaching and whitening, dubious fillings, cosmetic crowns and veneers, scaling and planing over four visits instead of one for a healthy mouth that doesn’t need it.

Dental deep cleaning is often necessary: it’s being duped that isn’t.


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