Sometimes a regular teeth cleaning isn’t enough. If bacteria invade below your gumline, you’ll need a deep dental cleaning (also known as periodontal scaling or root planing) to restore your gums to health and prevent oral health complications, such as periodontal disease and tooth loss. This special cleaning is needed when gums have become infected due to tartar buildup, which can lead to the formation of pus-filled pockets around the teeth.
A deep cleaning session can often be done in a single, one or two-hour visit to the dentist; however, if the infection is widespread, the dentist might suggest more appointments to be able to properly clean each trouble spot, especially if you have bleeding, swollen or tender gums. In untreated, these gum problems can lead to tooth loss or needing a tooth extraction.
What are the signs deep cleaning is needed?
Several factors lead to a diagnosis of periodontitis (or gum disease) and therefore, the need for a deep cleaning, such as:
What’s the difference between regular cleaning and deep cleaning?
Regular cleanings and deep cleanings differ from each other in various aspects:
- A regular cleaning focuses at and above the gumline, a deep cleaning works below it.
- Regular cleaning removes superficial bacteria around teeth. Deep cleaning removes deep pockets of bacteria and extensive tartar buildup collected under the gumline that can’t be eliminated by brushing nor flossing.
- Regular cleaning can be performed regularly on patients with healthy gums. Deep cleaning is primarily performed on patients with periodontal or gum disease.
- Routine dental cleanings are for oral health maintenance. Deep cleanings require a more intensive procedure called scaling and root planing, aimed to minimize the size of the bacteria pockets that developed with the progression of gingivitis.
- When performing a regular dental cleaning, anesthesia is not required. At a deep dental procedure, anesthesia is often used to numb your gums during cleaning.
What to expect after a deep teeth cleaning?
After the procedure, you may experience swelling, soreness, or bleeding. A soft food diet is recommended since your gums will be tender, and hot or cold food or drinks should be avoided to prevent sensitive tooth pain for the next few days. The dentist will ask you to schedule a follow-up appointment to measure pocketing and determine how your gums are improving.