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Dental Cleaning

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Dental Cleanings: Keeping Your Teeth in Your Smile

Most of us know that dentists provide different types of dental cleanings, and we know that cleanings are important. But, not everyone knows why.

  • Regular cleanings remove the food, plaque and bacteria that regular brushing and flossing miss.
  • Left uncleaned, that same food, plaque and bacteria will cause bone-destroying gum disease and lead to early tooth loss.
  • In other words: “Clean em” or they eventually fall out!
dental cleaning services in San Antonio, TX

What do you mean there are five types of dental cleanings?

When you call to schedule a “cleaning”, you probably think that you’re asking for a specific service. Right? Not exactly…

In reality, dentists actually offer five clinically different types of dental cleanings. Why hasn’t anyone told you this before? Well, we dentists may be great at fixing teeth, but we don’t always have stellar communication skills.

Think of a dental cleaning like a car wash. Full service car washes usually offer different types of washes:

  • a basic wash = a 6-month regular cleaning
  • a heavy duty wash = scaling in the presence of inflammation
  • a bug scrubbing service = debridement
  • a deep clean detail wash = scaling and root planing)

Let’s see how these compare to different types of dental cleanings. The similarities will amaze you!

car washing is like the basic type of teeth cleaning
regular basic teeth cleaning every 6 months
#1 The Basic Wash Cleaning - Regular 6 Month Cleaning - Designed to Prevent Gum Infection

If you’re a regular city driver who washes your car regularly and vacuums it at home, then you’ll rarely need anything more than a basic wash to get it sparkling clean.

It’s the same way with dental cleanings.

If you get your teeth cleaned regularly, then each cleaning consists of simple removal of the debris and bacteria that have built up around the teeth over the past six months. The hygienist shouldn’t need to clean far below your gumline.

With regular cleanings, the gums jas am easy job of shielding the teeth from invading bacteria. You can tell that the gums are happy when the poking part of the cleaning (called perio-probing) measures gum probings at three millimeters or less.

With a basic cleaning, you’ll be back out the door with a fresh, healthy smile in an hour. (This preventative appointment usually includes yearly x-rays, an anti-cavity fluoride treatment and by a doctor evaluation to confirm all is in good order.)

heavy duty cleaning of cars as well as of teeth
scaling in the presence of inflammation
#2 The Heavy Duty Cleaning - Scaling (Cleaning) in the Presence of Inflammation - Gingivitis Therapy

What if you usually wash your car regularly, but then you miss a few washes?

Your car will need a little extra help to get it clean, right? Maybe it will require some extra scrubbing or rinsing in some places. Or it might need a second run through the basic car wash to get the extra dirt off.

The same thing applies to your teeth.

Maybe you normally get them cleaned every six months, but you suddenly realize it’s been more than a year. That means that you have more than two cleanings worth of food, plaque and bacteria built up around your teeth. In that time, bacteria have multiplied and the plaque has caked onto the teeth into rock hard tartar and calculus.

At this point, your gums probably appear red and puffy and bleed when you floss. We call this gingivitis, and it’s an infection in the gums.

With gingivitis, perio-probings measure longer than 3 mm. Some deeper 4mm and 5 mm pockets have snuck in.

A different type of dental

In order for the hygienist to remove the extra build up, she has to clean deeper under the gums as well as around the teeth. This becomes a different type of dental cleaning and requires special techniques. It will take two appointments to guarantee that we have dealt with the infection: one appointment for the preliminary cleaning and another one a few weeks later after inflammation has gone down. This second cleaning allows us to catch any tartar and calculus that remains.

If someone gives you “just a cleaning” when you haven’t had your teeth cleaned in over a year, beware! We can guarantee that you will not have clean teeth afterwards, because a hygienist cannot see through the red, puffy, bleeding gum tissue in order to give a detailed, effective cleaning in that first appointment.

teeth debridement
#3 The Bug Scrub Cleaning - Debridement - Cleaning followed by healing time and doctor's exam

Now, imagine you’re a city driver who lives in San Antonio, and it’s butterfly season. Without having a bug scrub before your car wash, you’ll end up with a semi-clean car dotted with yellow bug guts.

This proves true for your teeth too.

Sometimes people come in with a lot of visible plaque built up on their teeth. We can see that their gums are inflamed, and we can see that they need a cleaning. However, we can’t see underneath the plaque to be able to tell if they’ll need a basic wash or a deep clean once the bugs are gone. Whenever a patient has a lot of build-up, we have to do a “bug scrub” first. In dentistry, we call this a debridement.

Scaling and Root Planing
#4 The Deep Clean Detail Cleaning - Scaling and Root Planing - Periodontal Disease Therapy

Picture your car if you hadn’t washed it in years. Pretend that you don’t ever vacuum it or wipe down the windows. Getting that car clean again will require a multi-step deep clean detailed wash—inside and out.

This also happens with your teeth if you have gum disease. Once the plaque is cleared away by the “bug scrub” (debridement), perio-probings will show multiple places where the perio-probe slides deep into the gums. Perio-probings of six, seven and eight millimeters will appear. These deep “pockets” are places that the gums have separated from the teeth. We call this advanced gum disease or Periodontitis.

Why do these “periodontal pockets” pose problem? Those pockets offer the perfect home for bacteria, who go on to kill the bone. Cleaning these pockets requires a special kind of cleaning that is able to remove the plaque, tartar, calculus, bacteria, toxins, and dead gum tissue out of the pockets—out from under the gums and off the tooth roots. Oftentimes, treating periodontitis also requires a laser treatment in order to clean the dead cells and kill the bacteria. This deep cleaning gum therapy is called root planing and scaling. It can take several appointments of one to two hours each to clean the whole mouth.

SPOILER ALERT: If anyone claims to perform a root planing and scaling but completes your whole mouth within an hour, seek a second opinion. Either they did not perform root planing and scaling, OR you didn’t have the pockets that they claimed you did. Always ask the dentist how long the treatment will take before you accept the treatment. Root planing and scaling typically takes a minimum 1 hour and 30 minutes per half of your mouth.

#5 Deep Clean Maintenance - Maintaining the Results of Gum Infection Therapy every 3-4 months

This final type of cleaning doesn’t exactly fit our car wash analogy because the human mouth, as opposed to cars, is alive and coping with bacteria. Cars, on the other hand, cannot get infected. When people need deep cleaning gum therapy, the fault belongs to Periodontitis, that nasty infection deep under the gums. Once this infection takes root, it cannot ever be completely cured. You’ll never get over periodontitis like you would a cold or sinus infection. Once it takes root, you only have two choices: keep your teeth by keeping them clean OR lose your teeth as the infection kills your bone.

Keeping the infection cleaned up and under control requires cleanings every three to four months because that is approximately the time it takes for the infection to flare up again after a deep cleaning. Once you have periodontitis, a basic cleaning is never going to be enough because it won’t clean the infection out from the teeth roots. Periodontal Maintenance Cleanings are key to keeping your teeth.

How do I know which cleaning I need?

Just reading about the five kinds of cleanings, you probably already have an idea about which type of cleaning you need. A dentist will be able to tell you exactly what you need after looking at your gums and perio probings.

What are the benefits of regular dental cleaning?

  1. Whiter Teeth: Dental cleanings remove stain!
  2. Healthier Gums: Removing bacteria helps prevent bleeding and puffiness.
  3. Fresher Breath: Plaque, bacteria and food build up in the mouth stink. Cleanings keep your breath fresh.
  4. Fewer Cavities: Dental checkups, along with dental cleanings, catch small cavities before they become big expenses.
  5. Avoid Dentures: Regular cleanings are the best way to prevent tooth loss because they prevent periodontitis, the disease that causes tooth loss.
  6. More Confidence: People with clean teeth, bright smiles and fresh breath have more confidence!
  7. Fewer Stressful Surprises: Consistent dental visits ensure that we catch small problems before they become large problems. Smaller problems mean smaller bills and prevent unexpected dental emergencies.
  8. Stronger Teeth: Double up on benefits by adding back fluoride with a fluoride varnish. This turbo teeth booster strengthens enamel, making it harder for cavities to form.
  9. Personalized Tips and Tricks: Get answers to your burning dental questions! Why does your floss always rip? Why does your tongue look fuzzy? Why do your gums always bleed under your lingual retainer? Why is your upper left tooth always sensitive? Get solutions for YOUR mouth.
5 types of teeth Cleanings

It’s been a while, but my teeth don’t seem that dirty. Why can’t I just get a regular cleaning?

We hear this question A LOT. People feel like it’s unnecessary to have a special cleaning just because they haven’t been in a while. We find this even harder to explain when many other dental offices offer regular cleanings to almost everyone. Why are we so stuck on the whole five cleaning thing?

We’re stuck on it because our primary mission is to get our patients healthier—not to make a profit by treating masses of people with any treatment that they will accept.

Some dentists make the excuse that any cleaning is better than none at all, but we disagree. If you haven’t had a cleaning in over a year, then you have more bacteria built up deeper under your gums than someone who has had regular cleanings. That build up will remain in your mouth even with a regular cleaning. Because of this, the built up bacteria causes periodontal disease and leads to infection, bone loss and, eventually, dentures.

We believe that practicing with integrity means only offering you the cleaning that your specific mouth needs to be healthy. Offering a regular cleaning when you really need a different type of dental cleaning is like putting a band-aid on a cut that needs stitches. The band-aid may feel like treatment in the moment, but it won’t heal the cut properly.

Getting healthy requires getting clean—all the way clean.

which cleaning type do i need?

Need help with dental cleaning?

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Alamo Dental Health
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Erika Lea Wishert
Erika Lea Wishert
2020-07-29T17:21:30+0000
Just had an awesome dental cleaning at Alamo Dental Health. What an awesome group of loving professionals! My teeth are... so happy!read more
Paul Wishert
Paul Wishert
2020-07-22T20:56:36+0000
not only did Alamo Dental give me a new smile. I met my wife there. I will marry her this Saturday at Alamo Dental.... Alamo Dental changed my life. thank God!read more
Laura RicheyBrock
Laura RicheyBrock
2020-03-11T17:24:58+0000
Great experience I wish I had the funds to start the process that day.
Michael Morales
Michael Morales
2020-01-09T22:17:06+0000
By the far the best dental office in town!
Everett Lewis
Everett Lewis
2020-01-05T20:33:21+0000
After experiencing Dental franchise establishments, where you would meet a new Dentist with every visit, I came away... disappointed & as a result I was absent from the dentist's chair for years.But no disappointments here! After extensive, necessary treatments, spread over several appointments, I have come away very satisfied. Dr. Bec & his staff have done great job for me...every time. Just good folks here. Check them out!read more
Gloria Romo
Gloria Romo
2019-12-23T21:41:50+0000
Great staffPatty & Carmen are the best:)
Mark Liggins
Mark Liggins
2019-12-11T17:09:26+0000
They are extremely nice explaining the visit in great detail answered any questions that I had and just put me at ease... with the whole process would definitely recommend this dentist.read more
Elva Millard
Elva Millard
2019-10-30T21:49:33+0000
awesome experience!!! Friendly Staff!!!
Susie Ramirez
Susie Ramirez
2019-10-29T18:24:16+0000
I’ve been truly satisfied I think the staff and the Dr is so amazing! I have no regrets and no complaints everything... has been excellent!!read more
Nicole Jackson Eslinger
Nicole Jackson Eslinger
2019-10-29T16:30:44+0000
I absolutely love this Dental Office. I ❤️ Dr. Bec! I ❤️ the entire staff! The entire experience is very... personable! This office is top notch! Everyone makes you feel comfortable! I refer everyone I know looking for excellent dental care! I give this office an A+++++! Everyone in the office is super knowledgeable and answers all questions! I appreciate how each individual, including Dr. Bec takes the time to listen to questions and concerns! I actually look forward to my appointments! I just cannot say enough about Dr. Bec and his team! Thank you Patty, Carmen, Rebekah (Best hygienist), Malicia, Alex, Erika, Linda, Kathy and Dr. Bec!!!read more
Tony Cardosa
Tony Cardosa
2019-10-29T13:57:34+0000
The Service is Great , Good And Excellence Services , The Whole Time I Was in The Office I Feel Great Like Hommie... Looking Forward For My Next Appointment 👍 .read more
Bonny Altamira
Bonny Altamira
2019-10-04T01:32:39+0000
staff very friendly and very educated in their jobs to explain everything
Dina Rose
Dina Rose
2019-10-03T17:22:27+0000
They took all my fears going to the dentist. Doctor and Staff are friendly and make u feel so comfortable
Amanda Duran
Amanda Duran
2019-09-18T20:57:36+0000
Great staff! Wonderful environment :)
Peewee Scott
Peewee Scott
2019-09-18T14:25:46+0000
Satisfied with the Dentist and Staff!!
Daniel Reyna Valerio
Daniel Reyna Valerio
2019-09-17T19:40:21+0000
they have very professional staff Patty n Carmen very nice persons glad we came here the staff really know what... they are doing we gave them a 10 on their review thanksread more
Melody W. Guinther
Melody W. Guinther
2019-09-05T17:37:09+0000
What a wonderful experience...courteous and sweet staff!! Dr. Bec is great!! Patty, Carmen, Rebekah,, Malicia, Kathy... and Alex make you feel so welcome and genuinely care. Highly recommend this wonderful office!!!read more
Bobby Fairrow
Bobby Fairrow
2019-09-04T21:26:33+0000
Everyone was really friendly and helpful and tried to guide me in all the right dierections of all different dental... surgeries!!read more
Costea Samuel
Costea Samuel
2019-02-16T20:35:31+0000
Nice people! And good doctor!
Sandra Robinson
Sandra Robinson
2019-01-20T19:01:03+0000
I need an appointment BAD. LIKE YESTERDAY I'M IN NEED OF NEW DENTURES
Anthony Felder
Anthony Felder
2018-12-21T19:29:02+0000
Had a Great 👍🏿 time Alamo Dental no PAIN Smooth as Ice they get all the Stars made you feel so good that you... forgot you were at the Dentist really Good Great customer Service Great bed side manner Can’t Say Enough if you need some Work done give them a Try don’t Think you’ll be Disappointedread more
Smilez Alvarado
Smilez Alvarado
2018-10-17T20:41:18+0000
They are caring an Awesome People.. They making My Girl Smile Again.. Luv you Guys..�
Alex De Hoyos Sr
Alex De Hoyos Sr
2018-08-24T01:00:56+0000
I was very impressed with the state of the art equipment they have. Today was my first experience and it was a great... one. Dr. Bec will be my new Dentist:) Patty and the rest of the staff made me feel like home.read more
Julian Y. Ludy Trevino
Julian Y. Ludy Trevino
2018-08-23T14:47:25+0000
Dr.Bec and staff very professional and make you feel welcomed and relaxed. Very rare to see this. Started the process... for an implant and is going great, no pain!read more
April Love
April Love
2018-05-09T18:22:54+0000
Lee Smith
Lee Smith
2018-03-30T01:11:01+0000
Everyone at the clinic was very professional. Dr. Bec was very informative about what he found from my exam of my... teeth. Everyone was relaxed and appeared to have all the time in the world for you.read more
Betty Ruiz
Betty Ruiz
2018-02-15T17:01:32+0000
My husband and I were looking for a dentist closer to home and we found Dr. Bec. He and his team are excellent... especially his hygienist Christine. Mr &Mrs Ruizread more
Jack Evans
Jack Evans
2018-01-19T17:48:43+0000
I think Dr. Bec is running a great clinic. I enjoyed the friendly staff, and the whole process was very smooth and on... time. There was no rushing, which I liked a lot. Dr. Bec and his people knew their stuff, and there were no awkward surprises. I say anyone and everyone should go to this clinic to make even a visit to the dentist better.read more
Cynthia Saks
Cynthia Saks
2018-01-11T18:58:53+0000
Dr Bec is amazing! A super kind and patient dentist with excellent service. Thanks Dr. Bec for my new smile......If... you're in need of a dentist, call Alamo Dental Health.read more
Emara Towns
Emara Towns
2017-12-11T16:09:48+0000
Great vibes good dr great front desk could not be happier
Amsterdam Amsty
Amsterdam Amsty
2017-12-05T17:17:07+0000
Christine did a phenomenal job! The whole Alamo Dental Health team is amazing, knowledgeable and very friendly! Highly... recommended!read more
Jason Lemkowitz
Jason Lemkowitz
2017-11-30T21:40:45+0000
They make me want to go to the dentist! Super friendly and worked hard to get me an appointment and Doctor Bec is very... personable and friendly.read more
Alexandria Rae Krisel
Alexandria Rae Krisel
2017-11-28T22:45:51+0000
So thorough and helpful. They are even willing to help set you up in the office with payment plans.
Michael Patrick
Michael Patrick
2017-11-22T18:09:05+0000
I had a crown replaced by Dr. Beck. I couldn’t be happier and Christine cleaned my teeth... many props to the staff... who have always been welcoming either the same great smile I can now proudly walk around with!read more
Krystal Flores
Krystal Flores
2017-11-21T22:52:00+0000
Ashlee, Sara and Ash are awesome! We appreciate the concern for the dental work needed.
Jacob De La Garza
Jacob De La Garza
2017-11-20T12:05:43+0000
Great staff and they cleaned my teeth very well :)
Joe Leos
Joe Leos
2017-11-17T19:03:28+0000
Fast and friendly service with a great staff would definitely recommend
Monica Fernandez Jimenez
Monica Fernandez Jimenez
2017-11-17T17:52:08+0000
Candace Romero
Candace Romero
2017-11-17T17:24:39+0000
Dr. Bec and his team are by far the best dentist office ever. Every visit is a pleasant experience (for both myself... and my son) and I never dread my appointments like I have with previous dentists. So thankful to have them as one of my healthcare providers!read more
Elina Derr
Elina Derr
2017-11-17T02:17:38+0000
AWESOME is what it was. Everyone was great, I was very at ease, no unexplained questions. I was more knowledgeable... about my situation than ever before, they were much more up front about all that needs to be done and in what order it should be done in to obtain a routine to keep a healthy smile. All Dentist's Offices should be so lucky to have a successful, vital, and happy staff. Keep it Fresh like SUBWAY!read more
Eileen Virginia Schaper
Eileen Virginia Schaper
2017-11-16T22:49:48+0000
My first appointment here was Amazing. Staff was very friendly, promp, and uplifting. Exam went smoothly and was... explained very well. Will recommend to anyone. Loved it.read more
Valentina Cekovski
Valentina Cekovski
2016-09-27T19:27:05+0000
Had such a good New Patient experience today- the hygenist, doctor and staff were all so kind and really walked me... through what I needed for my treatment, very thorough. I feel very positive and am happy that I made a switch to Alamo Dental!read more
Jorge Zavala
Jorge Zavala
2016-09-01T21:29:02+0000
Cristina and Dr Bec were amazing with my dental care. The rest of the staff was great in making me feel at ease before... my procedure. Thank you guys and i will recommend Alamo oral health to my friends and family.read more
Natalia Bobadilla
Natalia Bobadilla
2016-08-11T00:28:38+0000
My husband and I both schedule our first visit with Dr Bec today and we are extremely satisfied with the results Dr... Bec, Cristina and Sarah all exceeded our expectations and truly went above and beyond to make us comfortable. Best customer service ever the office was super clean and the best part Dr Bec actually took the time to talk to us, ask questions, listen and answer. We have found our new dental office.read more
Dawn Bearden
Dawn Bearden
2016-05-04T21:34:30+0000
Mason Joseph
Mason Joseph
2016-02-25T22:35:24+0000
Great folks! Very friendly and they make me forget I'm at the dentist. Check them out!
Lesey Love
Lesey Love
2016-02-12T13:53:10+0000
I'm not too comfortable with Dentists but everyone really helped me get over my slight fear and made me feel welcomed.... I'm definitely calling it my dental home for a very long timeread more
Jody LaCoss
Jody LaCoss
2016-02-03T12:54:22+0000
Cynthia A. Jones
Cynthia A. Jones
2016-02-02T03:40:39+0000
Had an awesome exam from Dr. Bec and Shivonne. Very thorough and complete. ThxsC. Jones
Manu Si Feli Bizau
Manu Si Feli Bizau
2016-01-19T23:42:38+0000
Doctor Bec Cristina and staff are great, very professional, caring and always looking for the best treatment plan. I'd... recommend him to any family member and friends. Best place to get your teeth taken care of.:) I feel blessed to have found this place where I always feel part of the family and able to walk out smiling! :)read more
Sandy Merrill
Sandy Merrill
2016-01-18T17:09:30+0000
Fantastic group, I had a great first visit. Shavonne and Dr Bec are knowledgeable and fun.
Amalia Martin
Amalia Martin
2015-06-11T20:30:03+0000
Andrew Bran
Andrew Bran
2014-10-19T22:00:05+0000
Tibby Bec
Tibby Bec
2014-10-07T04:30:19+0000
Gabriela Gheorghe
Gabriela Gheorghe
2014-10-07T03:24:43+0000
Amanda Adamitz
Amanda Adamitz
2014-02-07T02:44:12+0000
Dr Bec and team are amazing! Such a wonderful feeling to see a family environment, and a doctor who truly cares.
Jase Franklin
Jase Franklin
2014-02-06T21:20:14+0000
Best experience EVER!!!!!
Beck Cristian
Beck Cristian
2014-01-03T15:09:13+0000
Adelina Handolescu
Adelina Handolescu
2013-12-31T01:57:41+0000
Gabriel Stanciu
Gabriel Stanciu
2013-12-09T19:48:47+0000
Charline A. Duplessis
Charline A. Duplessis
2013-11-20T21:24:00+0000
Paul Mesaros
Paul Mesaros
2013-10-21T21:15:21+0000
Cristina Hammervold
Cristina Hammervold
2013-10-17T18:52:16+0000
Alecs Tudoroiu
Alecs Tudoroiu
2013-10-16T18:46:36+0000
Ady-Dana Geo
Ady-Dana Geo
2013-10-14T21:19:40+0000
Lidia Crisan Jurovschi
Lidia Crisan Jurovschi
2013-10-10T04:36:41+0000
Costea Alexe
Costea Alexe
2013-10-04T19:16:15+0000
Ioan Bec
Ioan Bec
2013-10-02T05:20:57+0000
Mihai Ileana
Mihai Ileana
2013-09-30T14:21:38+0000
Alex Andrea
Alex Andrea
2013-09-04T12:19:34+0000
Elisabeta John Cristurean
Elisabeta John Cristurean
2013-08-10T00:11:33+0000
George Beck
George Beck
2013-08-09T21:36:09+0000
Michelle Morar
Michelle Morar
2013-07-24T23:13:36+0000
Cristina Bec
Cristina Bec
2013-07-22T08:50:10+0000
Nico Pavel
Nico Pavel
2013-07-20T09:28:42+0000
JohnandKirstin Bec
JohnandKirstin Bec
2013-07-16T05:20:21+0000
Excellent Service. ... among other things.
Costea Irina
Costea Irina
2013-07-16T04:55:44+0000
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