Deep cleaning is a more involved type of dental cleaning than you’ll have during a routine dental exam and cleaning. During a regular dental cleaning, you will have the front, back and sides of your teeth cleaned. Deep cleaning goes beneath the gum line to remove tartar and plaque, which if left untreated, can lead to bacterial growth and gum disease. If bacteria is already present, deep cleaning will remove the bacteria. A deep cleaning may be completed in a single office visit, but it often depends on your comfort level. The entire process of deep teeth cleaning can last several hours, so some dentists and patients prefer to break the cleaning up over multiple appointments.
What happens during a deep cleaning dental appointment?
The goal of having a deep cleaning of your teeth is to remove tartar buildup from the roots of your teeth and the exterior of your teeth, below the gum line. This is why the procedure may also be referred to as gum therapy, or gum scaling and root planing.
Before the deep cleaning starts, you will be given a numbing agent to reduce your discomfort. Then your dentist or hygienist will begin to remove the tartar buildup from beneath your gum line, working on one quadrant of your mouth at a time.
During the process your dental provider will be scraping plaque off of your teeth, using either a manual tool or an ultrasonic tool that uses water to wash the tartar away. Rough spots on the roots of your teeth will also be smoothed out to minimize gaps or pockets between your teeth and your gums, where bacteria can thrive.
Afterward, it is not uncommon for your gums to be sore. It’s also not uncommon for tenderness to develop in the days that follow your appointment(s). Your gums may also appear a bit swollen, or bleed a bit when you brush. This is normal, and no cause for concern.
Following your appointment, you may also experience increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods. Certain mouthwashes or desentizing toothpaste can help minimize your discomfort. Over-the-counter pain medications including ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help if you experience persistent pain following your appointment. All discomfort and sensitivity should resolve within several weeks.
Signs You May Need Deep Cleaning of Your Teeth
You may need a deep cleaning if your dental X-rays show bacterial buildup beneath your gum line. Likewise, if any bone loss is noted in your X-rays, it is important to schedule your deep cleaning ASAP. Failing to treat active gum disease can lead to the rapid progression of periodontal disease. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss, bone loss, and dangerous infections.
Other signs that you may need a deep cleaning include bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath, loosening teeth, pain when chewing, and extreme tooth sensitivity. If you have any of these signs, contact your dentist for an exam as soon as possible.
Schedule Your Dental Exam Today
If it’s been at least six months since your last dentist appointment, it’s time to schedule your next exam and cleaning with our top-rated dental team. Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.