What is full-mouth debridement and irrigation?

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What is full-mouth debridement and irrigation?
Full-mouth debridement is performed by a dental hygienist or dentist. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Debridement is a procedure performed by a dental professional if a normal cleaning and examination of your teeth cannot be completed due to the presence of an excessive amount of plaque and calculus. Debridement is an aggressive type of cleaning that is sometimes followed by irrigation -- a liquid composed of water and antibacterial agents shot at high pressure under and around the gum line.

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Debridement involves rough removal of calculus and plaque from your teeth. Some dentists may use numbing agents and nitrous oxide, as this will allow a deeper scaling into the roots. Because of the intensive labour involved, debridement is more expensive than a normal cleaning.


An irrigation performed in the dentist's office after debridement is most effective in fighting periodontal disease when regular oral irrigation is continued at home. Dr. Nina Kiani, a general dentist, states on Guide to Dentistry's website that there are no contraindications to using home irrigation devices. These devices can be purchased at most drugstores.


A full mouth debridement with or without an irrigation has minimal health risks, though some normal short-term effects can include inflamed gums, bleeding and sensitive teeth. Though rare, a serious risk is infection. Symptoms of this may be swelling or discharge from the site or swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck. Call your dentist if you develop signs of infection.

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