In Cape Coral, Florida we have over 400 miles of waterfront property and everyone here has a dock or lives across the street from one. So when I tell my patients that scaling and root planing their teeth is like, "Scraping the barnacles off of their pilings below the water line", they usually understand what I mean. Humans have lived with bacteria in their mouths for a very long time. Some of these bacteria are beneficial and some are not. The beneficial bacteria usually help occupy niches in the mouth so that the bad bacteria cannot populate them in sufficient numbers to cause an unwanted infection. Unfortunately, the good bacteria cannot always protect us from the bad bacteria and this is when we can develop gingivitis, and periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing helps keep our mouths disease free, if done properly, but few people have the dental IQ or manual dexterity to actually pull this off. This is why the World Health Organization estimates that 85% of adults have some form of periodontal disease and 5-20% have severe periodontal disease (loss of tooth/teeth). When bacteria are left unchecked too long around the necks of your teeth, they can use the calcium from your saliva and build solid "homes" that are very hard to remove with regular home care. These homes are called calculus or tartar and are hard to remove. Professional cleaning can get rid of them. When calculus is found above the gum-line it is called supragingival calculus and is scaled off. If it is found below the gum-line it is called subgingival calculus and it is root planed off. The process of removing both supra and subgingival calculus is called scaling & root planing. In Florida, a simple cleaning can be done by an expanded duties dental assistant, but scaling and root planing can only be preformed by the doctor or a state licensed dental hygienist. Everyday in our practice we hear from new patients that they never have had such a good cleaning. The secret? Taking the time to do it the right way. Each of our 3 Registered Dental Hygienists only take 8 patient per day. This insures that they have enough time to do a completely thorough and comfortable job. Not some hurry up, turn and burn, buff and shine "cleaning" that you get from most chain dental clinics who are just looking at the numbers and not patient care.