If your dentist has told you that you need a “deep cleaning”, you may be wondering what
exactly this means. How is it different from a regular teeth cleaning?
A deep cleaning is also called a gum scaling and root planing procedure, and your dentist will suggest it if you have gum disease. For this reason, it may also be referred to as periodontal therapy. If you have any stage of gum disease, a deep cleaning is necessary to remove plaque, bacteria, and tartar from your teeth and underneath your gumline in an attempt to reverse the condition.
What should you expect during a deep cleaning with your dentist? Here’s what you should know.
Local Anesthesia Is Used
While effective, a deep cleaning can be uncomfortable for some patients, so dentists typically use a local or topical anesthetic to help reduce discomfort during the procedure. If you have dental anxiety or concerns about the discomfort you may experience during your appointment, you can always ask your dentist questions before the procedure.
Gum Scaling to Remove Plaque and Tartar
Once your smile is ready for the cleaning, your dentist will carefully remove tartar and plaque from below the gumline with a scaling tool . Scaling is different from a regular teeth cleaning because it allows your dentist to get into areas where the gums may have pulled away from the teeth and caused pockets of infection to form. By removing plaque and tartar, along with harmful bacteria, the gums have a chance to successfully reattach to the teeth.
Root Planing to Promote Gum Reattachment
Once the scaling part of the procedure is done, it’s time for root planing. During root planing, your dentist will smooth the tooth roots and gum tissue so that the gums can reattach to the teeth . This will encourage your gum tissue to heal and reverse gum disease. Gum scaling and root planing may be done during the same visit, or your dentist may schedule two separate visits to complete the deep cleaning process.
What Happens After?
After the procedure, you may need to take antibiotics to help clear up any infection that may have been present in your gums as a result of gum disease. Your dentist will let you know if you need to take any medication to help heal your gum tissue.
Not everyone will experience discomfort after a scaling and planing procedure, but for some, mild discomfort is to be expected. It depends on how extensive your gum disease was and how long the procedure took. Your dentist may suggest over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, saltwater rinses, and eating soft foods until your smile feels better.
For some people, the cleaning will need to be repeated to manage gum disease. For others, one deep cleaning is all that’s needed to restore their smile. Continuing to see your dentist for regular checkups after your deep cleaning can ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy and you won’t need further intervention!