How a Hygienist Removes Plaque and Tartar Buildup

The ADA recommends bi-annual visits to the dentist. However, due to a variety of factors, many people are unable to do so. This puts them at risk for a wide range of dental diseases, like tooth decay, periodontal problems and also oral cancer. If you have not been to the dentist in years and don’t brush or floss regularly, you may need a full-mouth debridement.

What is Full-Mouth Debridement

This is an aggressive procedure that is done to remove plaque and tartar buildup. It is not to be confused with regular oral prophylaxis. It incorporates a number of procedures and may take two to three sessions to complete.

Gum Disease Treatment Before and After Picture
Before and After Gum Disease Treatment

The debridement process includes the following:


Due to the calcification present, a dentist or dental hygienist will use a combination of manual scalers and an ultrasonic device to remove the debris found above and below the gumline. The procedure is done to prevent bacteria from entering the internal structure of the tooth or remove particles that have breached it. The process will take longer with several visits if a patient has excessive buildup.


This procedure is done to remove rough areas, which bacteria like to cling. It helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Dr. Hauser’s registered dental hygienists use a low- or high-speed device to remove any irregularities or rough areas.

Root Planing

This is done to remove plaque and tartar buildup found in periodontal pockets. These are inflamed areas where plaque and tartar have formed, causing the gums and tooth to separate. Root planing is an aggressive procedure, which is performed to debride the root area.

Please note that a thin layer of cementum is removed during this procedure. This is the layer that covers the root and should not to be confused with dentin, although they are almost the same color. It is weaker and thinner, which is why subgingival buildup should be removed right away.

Root planing is only necessary when the debris has invaded the root area. This may be done on the same day. However, in some cases, a patient is asked to come back for a second appointment.

Oral Cavity Assessment

This may be done during the first visit. However, if aggressive cleaning is necessary, a dentist would rather have the patient come back for a second appointment, as the tissues will need time to heal before a proper assessment can be done. X-rays are required to assess the health of the internal structures.

In cases where there is extensive damage, the dentist may prescribe other procedures. The patient may require dental fillings, root canal therapy, tooth extraction and other services based on the findings of the oral assessment.

Who Benefits From Full-Mouth Debridement?

Scaling and polishing is done twice yearly to prevent plaque and tartar formation. When a person does not have his or her dentition cleaned bi-annually, thick deposits may begin to form. These can be yellowish-white to black.

People who do not practice proper oral hygiene, those with abnormal plaque buildup and individuals who have periodontal disease will benefit from this full-mouth cleaning.

Individuals who have not been to the dentist in years should check their teeth for shell-like formations. These will resemble sediments and will feel rough to the touch. In most cases, these are found in the posterior surface of the tooth and right on the gum line. Dr. Hauser’s team of registered hygienists can eradicate plaque and tartar buildup efficiently with a debridement. To schedule a consultation, please call (951) 244-9495.

Registered Dental Hygienists at Lakefront Family Dentistry
Registered Dental Hygienists at Lakefront Family Dentistry

Our Patients Rank Dr. Mark Phillipe, DDS, and Dr. Derek Hauser, DDS, as the #1 Private Cosmetic and Family Dentist Practice in the Inland Empire!