This is the removal of plaque and calculus ("tartar") from above the gumline (supragingival) and below the gumline (subgingival) which would keep the dentist from performing a comprehensive oral evaluation. This is an initial procedure and does not eliminate the need for other periodontal treatment or cleanings. This procedure has an additional copayment according to your Schedule of Benefits.
As you can see, a simple prophy is meant to remove tartar and plaque above the gumline. It can also go slightly below the gumline, but if a hygientist or dentist has to go more than 1-2mm below the gumline to remove tartar deposits, this is considered a full mouth debridement. Also, if the tartar is so thick that the dentist can't even see the tooth structure underneath it, a full mouth debridement would be required.
In my office, a normal prophy including the exam and xrays, takes about 1 hour. A full mouth debridement takes a full hour all on its own, and still requires a follow up visit for a periodontal evaluation in one month, so that we can do perio-charting and evaluate the pocketing around the patients teeth.
Ask yourself this,"What do I want to accomplish when I get a cleaning?" Do you want your teeth to look clean from the outside, but aren't really concerned with the areas that you can't see? Do you have a bad taste or odor and want to get rid of that? Do your gums bleed when you try to floss them? Also, stand in front of a mirror and try to look behind your lower front teeth. Do you see any yellow or grey/black colored buildup? If so, that is tartar and that may be why he suggested an FMD.
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