A bright and healthy smile is often a reflection of good oral hygiene practices. While daily brushing and flossing are essential components of maintaining oral health, a little extra care might be necessary to ensure your teeth and gums stay in optimal condition. This is where dental deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, comes into play. In this article, we will discuss what deep cleaning entails and when you might find yourself in need of this comprehensive dental procedure.

The Meaning of Deep Cleaning

When it comes to oral hygiene, most of us are well-versed in the fundamentals: brushing our teeth twice a day, flossing, and perhaps even rinsing with mouthwash. However, maintaining a healthy smile extends beyond these daily rituals.

This is where the concept of deep cleaning in dentistry becomes paramount. Deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is a comprehensive dental procedure designed to address issues lurking beneath the surface, where toothbrushes and floss may not reach.

Teeth deep cleaning is typically recommended for individuals with moderate to advanced gum disease, which can manifest as symptoms like gum inflammation, bleeding when brushing or flossing, bad breath, and pockets forming between the teeth and gums. It is an essential treatment to prevent the progression of gum disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to more severe issues like tooth mobility and tooth loss.

Regular Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning

Regular cleaning and deep cleaning are two different dental procedures performed by dentists, and they serve distinct purposes in maintaining oral health. Here are the key differences between regular cleaning and deep cleaning:

  • Purpose — Regular cleaning is a routine preventive dental cleaning. Its primary purpose is to remove plaque, tartar, and surface stains, as well as to polish the teeth for a clean and smooth feel. Regular cleanings help maintain good oral hygiene and prevent dental problems. On the other hand, deep cleaning is a therapeutic procedure used to treat gum disease (periodontal disease). Its primary purpose is to address gum inflammation and infection by removing accumulated plaque and tartar both above and below the gum line. It also involves smoothing the tooth roots to promote gum healing.
  • Extent of cleaning — Regular cleaning focuses on cleaning the visible tooth surfaces and the area just below the gumline. On the other hand, deep cleaning goes beyond the surface and addresses the buildup of tartar and bacteria both above and below the gum line, specifically targeting the root surfaces of the teeth.
  • Frequency — Regular cleaning is typically recommended every six months for individuals with healthy gums and teeth as part of routine preventive care. On the flip side, deep cleaning is recommended when gum disease is diagnosed and usually requires more frequent appointments, possibly with ongoing maintenance cleanings.
  • Anesthesia — Regular cleaning generally does not require anesthesia, as it is typically painless and comfortable. During deep cleaning, in some cases, local anesthesia may be used to numb the area being treated, as it can be more uncomfortable due to the extensive cleaning and root planing involved.
  • Cost — Regular cleaning is generally less expensive than deep cleaning and is often covered by dental insurance as part of routine preventive care. On the other hand, deep cleaning can be more costly due to the more extensive treatment involved and may not be fully covered by insurance, depending on your plan and the severity of the gum disease.

In summary, regular cleaning is a preventive measure aimed at maintaining oral health for those with healthy gums and teeth, while deep cleaning is a therapeutic procedure used to treat gum disease by addressing more severe issues such as gum inflammation and infection. The choice between the two depends on your oral health status and the recommendations of your dentist after a thorough examination. Regular dental check-ups are crucial in detecting and addressing any dental issues early, which can help prevent the need for deep cleaning in the first place.

Why You Might Need a Deep Cleaning

You might need a deep cleaning for several reasons, primarily related to the presence of gum disease (periodontal disease). Gum disease can develop and progress for various reasons, and deep cleaning becomes necessary when it has reached a more advanced stage.

Here are some common reasons why you might need a deep cleaning:

  • Gum inflammation — If your gums are constantly red, swollen, or tender, it may be a sign of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe gum disease, which may require a deep cleaning.
  • Bleeding gums — Bleeding from your gums when you brush, floss, or eat can be a symptom of gum disease. It is essential to address this issue promptly, as it may indicate an infection in your gums.
  • Deep gum pockets — During a dental examination, your dentist measures the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. If these pockets are deeper than usual, it can be a sign of advanced gum disease. Deeper pockets provide a haven for bacteria and make it harder to clean effectively with regular oral hygiene practices.
  • Receding gums — If your gums have pulled away from your teeth, exposing the tooth roots, it can increase the risk of gum disease. Receding gums can be a sign of periodontal disease and may require deep cleaning to address the underlying issues.
  • Tartar buildup — Over time, plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, can harden into tartar (calculus). Tartar cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing and requires professional dental cleaning to eliminate. If tartar accumulates below the gumline, it can contribute to gum disease and necessitate a deep cleaning.
  • Bad breath — Persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of gum disease. The bacteria associated with gum disease can produce foul-smelling compounds, contributing to bad breath.
  • Tooth mobility — If your teeth feel loose or if you notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite, it can be a sign of advanced gum disease. Deep cleaning may be part of the treatment plan to stabilize your teeth and improve your oral health.
  • Previous gum disease diagnosis — If you have been diagnosed with gum disease in the past and have not been regularly maintaining your gum health, it may progress to a stage where a deep cleaning is required.

It is crucial to understand that gum disease can vary in severity, from mild gingivitis to more severe periodontitis. The need for deep cleaning is determined by your dentist or periodontist after a thorough examination and assessment of your gum health. Early detection and treatment of gum disease can help prevent it from advancing to a stage where deep cleaning becomes necessary, so regular dental check-ups are essential to maintain good oral health.

What Happens During the Deep Cleaning?

During the deep cleaning, several steps are involved to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria both above and below the gumline and to promote gum healing. Here is what happens during the deep cleaning procedure:

  • Evaluation and assessment — Before the deep cleaning begins, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination of your oral health. This includes checking the depth of gum pockets (the spaces between your teeth and gums), identifying areas of gum inflammation, and assessing the extent of plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Anesthesia — Depending on your gum disease's severity and comfort level, your dental provider may administer local anesthesia to numb the treatment area. This helps ensure that you experience minimal discomfort during the procedure.
  • Scaling — The scaling portion of the deep cleaning involves the removal of plaque and tartar (calculus) from the tooth surfaces, especially those areas below the gumline. Dental instruments called scalers or ultrasonic devices are used to scrape away these deposits carefully. This step eliminates the source of infection and bacteria causing gum inflammation.
  • Root planing — After scaling, the dentist proceeds with root planing. During this step, the rough surfaces of the tooth roots are smoothed out. This process makes it more challenging for bacteria to adhere to the roots, promotes gum healing, and encourages the reattachment of the gums to the tooth surfaces.
  • Irrigation — Your dental provider may use an antimicrobial or antibiotic solution to irrigate the treated gum pockets. This helps to disinfect the area and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Medications — In some cases, your dentist may place medication or antibiotic gel directly into the gum pockets to aid in healing and reduce inflammation.
  • Post-procedure evaluation — After completing the scaling and root planing, your dentist will assess the treated areas to ensure they are clean and smooth. They may also measure the depth of gum pockets again to track progress.
  • Post-care instructions — Your dentist will provide you with post-care instructions. These may include recommendations for pain management, dietary restrictions, and oral hygiene practices following the deep cleaning. It is essential to follow these instructions carefully to support the healing process.
  • Follow-up appointments — Depending on the severity of your gum disease, your dentist may schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and determine if additional treatment or maintenance cleanings are necessary.

The deep cleaning procedure can take one or more visits, depending on the extent of the gum disease and the number of areas that need treatment. While the procedure may cause some discomfort and temporary sensitivity, it is crucial in addressing gum disease and preventing its progression to more severe stages. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining the health of your gums after a deep cleaning.

Does Deep Cleaning Hurt?

The level of discomfort or pain experienced during a deep cleaning can vary from person to person and depends on several factors. Most dental providers use local anesthesia to numb the area being treated during a deep cleaning. This is done to minimize discomfort or pain during the procedure. The administration of local anesthesia usually involves a slight pinch or sting from the needle, but the numbing effect quickly follows, making the procedure relatively painless while it is being performed.

After the deep cleaning, it is common to experience some sensitivity in the treated areas. This sensitivity can range from mild to moderate and may include discomfort when eating, drinking, or even breathing in cold air. Sensitivity can last a few days to a couple of weeks but typically resolves as the gums heal.

While you should not feel pain during the scaling and root planing due to the anesthesia, you may still feel pressure, vibrations, or scraping sensations, which can be somewhat uncomfortable for some individuals. However, it is generally manageable and temporary.

It is possible to experience some soreness or discomfort after the anesthesia wears off and as your gums begin to heal. Over-the-counter pain relievers, as recommended by your dentist, can help alleviate this discomfort. Using a soft toothbrush and avoiding very hot or cold foods and drinks can also minimize irritation.

The level of discomfort experienced varies based on individual pain tolerance, the extent of gum disease, and the specific treatment required. For some, a deep cleaning may be relatively painless, while others may find it more uncomfortable.

It is essential to communicate with your dentist throughout the procedure. If you experience any pain or discomfort during the deep cleaning, let them know so they can adjust the anesthesia or take other measures to ensure your comfort.

While a deep cleaning can involve temporary discomfort, it is a necessary and effective treatment for treating gum disease and preventing its progression. The benefits of improved oral health and reduced risk of more severe gum problems often outweigh the temporary discomfort associated with the procedure. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene practices and attending follow-up appointments as recommended by your dentist can help ensure a smooth recovery and minimize discomfort.

Find an Encino Dentist Near Me

Deep cleaning is a vital procedure to enhance your dental health. It plays a pivotal role in the treatment and management of gum disease, helping restore not only your gums' health but also your smile's overall well-being.

At Lasting Impressions Dental Spa, we understand the importance of your oral health and are committed to providing you with the best care possible. If you suspect you may need a deep cleaning or have questions about your oral health, do not hesitate to reach out to us at 818-751-5100.