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My Dentist Said I Can’t Get a Normal Cleaning. Why?

If you have gingivitis or periodontitis, a normal cleaning won’t be helpful. It can actually be harmful by allowing bacteria to remain trapped below your gums.

You probably just did a double take. You came to Tend expecting to get a normal cleaning, and instead you were told you have gingivitis or periodontitis, and that you have to schedule another visit to have non-surgical gum treatment or non-surgical periodontal treatment.

You may be thinking: Wait, what? Having my teeth cleaned is the whole reason I’m here! Why won’t Tend do it? What are these other treatments? And if I need one, why can’t it happen now?

We get it. If you’re being diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis for the first time, this is a confusing (and probably annoying) moment. But we just want what’s best for your mouth—and you. Failing to deal with either of these diseases now can result in painful, complicated, and expensive issues down the line.

Let’s back up. What are gingivitis and periodontitis?

Plaque doesn’t just build up on your teeth. It also builds up under your gums. This can make your gums sensitive and inflamed. It can also cause gingivitis, a mild, easily treatable form of gum disease.

If left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis. That’s an irreversible disease of the structures supporting your teeth that can result in tooth loss.

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What are non-surgical gum treatment and non-surgical periodontal treatment?

If you have gingivitis or periodontitis, a typical cleaning won’t be helpful. It can actually be harmful by allowing bacteria to remain trapped below your gums.

That’s where non-surgical gum treatment and non-surgical periodontal treatment (also known as scaling and root planing) come in. These treatments clean underneath your gum line, in areas where a toothbrush can’t reach and that can’t be accessed during a typical cleaning.

Because these treatments are more thorough, they require more time. That’s why we ask you to come back in.

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How can I be sure I need this?

If you’re new to Tend and your prior dentist never diagnosed you with gingivitis or periodontitis, we know this can be a lot to process. We want to assure you of two things.

First, Tend practices evidence-based dentistry that’s rooted in the latest clinical research. As a medical field, we now know more than we used to about both of these diseases and how to treat them, and Tend always adheres to the American Dental Association’s standards.

Second, our dentists don’t make a commission on procedures. They only offer the care you need. You can decide to proceed with any treatment recommendations confident that your interests and your dentists are aligned.

Do non-surgical gum treatment and non-surgical periodontal treatment hurt?

No. Before your treatment begins, we’ll give you an anesthetic, so you won’t feel a thing, though you may be sore for about 24 hours afterward.

While these treatments do go deeper than a typical cleaning, they’re essential to avoiding more invasive treatments in the future, which could involve surgery.

What’s the process?

Both non-surgical gum treatment and non-surgical periodontal treatment typically require two visits, and each visit takes about an hour. Every three to four months, we’ll ask you to come back in to make sure your disease is in check.

Do these additional visits require more of your time and, likely, more expense? Yes. But ignoring gingivitis or periodontitis will end up creating more complex problems in the future that are far more time-consuming and more expensive to deal with. We want to help you avoid that.

Are gingivitis and periodontitis curable?

Gingivitis can be cured thanks to non-surgical gum treatment. Periodontitis, like diabetes and high blood pressure, isn’t curable. However, it is controllable through non-surgical periodontal treatment. Keeping both diseases in check continues at home with diligent brushing, flossing, and rinsing.

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Is having gingivitis or periodontitis my fault?

No. There’s no reason to feel bad about your diagnosis. While at-home care is a factor in both diseases, they’re just that—diseases. You shouldn’t blame yourself for having diabetes or high blood pressure, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for having gingivitis or periodontitis.

But as with diabetes and high blood pressure, you should be proactive about managing these diseases, especially at the onset.

It’s important to keep gingivitis and periodontitis in check

Take advantage of your dentist’s diagnosis to halt your disease before it advances—and restore your mouth to health.

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