• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is very afraid of dentistry or who suffers with dental phobia. Please note that this is NOT a dental problems forum! You can find a list of them here.

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Junior member
Jul 6, 2009
Well, I visited a new dentist today and I think I've been had. I went in for a simple checkup/cleaning/xray, but I was charged for a debridement, which I understand is a higher level of cleaning. The thing is that debridement should only be performed on the patient if they have excessive plaque and buildup (to an extent that makes it difficult for the dentist to do his/her job), is it not? Although I haven't been to the dentist in two years, I don't think my plaque or buildup was that bad to warrant this.

The dentist did show me an xray where I had buildup underneath the gum, but he said he wanted me back on a second visit so he could put some gel to numb the gums so he could clean that out. Doesn't that sound like what the actual debridement procedure should have been? But then why was I charged for a debridement?

I think the dentist did a poor job of cleaning my teeth anyway---when I rinsed my mouth out, I was expecting a lot of gunk but it was practically just clean water stained a little bit of red by the blood from my gums. And after leaving the office, I was still able to pick out some plaque with my fingernail...


Well-known member
Verified dentist
Oct 11, 2007
Having a little bit of Gorgonzola with crackers!
I'm don't commonly use the term debridement so I'm not sure what exactly your dental office was referring to. When I hear debridement, I think of someone currettaging out inflammed, boggy tissue along the gum pockets, but it could also refer to gross removal of tartar (?). Best to ask your dentist about that.

If you can see tartar on an xray, that usually means it's pretty severe so that could explain the need for a second appointment and residual amount of plaque present. They may not have cleaned your entire mouth so the uncleaned areas are left for your next visit. There certainly are less than ethical dentists out there, and it can be difficult to weed the bad apples from the good ones. You might want to bring up your concerns with your dentist, and just ask him anything that you're not comfortable with. If he/she is upfront with you and can explain things to your satisfaction, that's a good sign that you're not being scammed.