When you think about deep cleaning, do you think about going to the dentist? Probably not. “Deep cleaning” doesn’t necessarily sound like a dental procedure. However, a deep cleaning is more than just a “thorough cleaning” of your mouth or an intensified routine cleaning.
What is the difference between routine cleaning and deep cleaning?
Routine cleaning is a cleaning that takes place once every six months. During this appointment, the dental hygienist will clean the surface of the teeth. The teeth are polished and flossed, and routine x-rays may be taken. The focus of care during routine cleaning is above the gum line.
On the other hand, deep cleaning is a specific dental procedure that focuses on care below the gum line; a deep cleaning is generally referred to as scaling and root planing. A scaling and root planning procedure is done with the intention of treating gum disease. During this procedure, tartar, bacteria, and other debris are removed from below the gum line by scaling and root planing.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar are removed from all of the surfaces of the tooth as well as from the gum pockets. Scaling can be performed manually with a scaling tool or with an ultrasonic tool. While scaling removes plaque from the tooth surface and gum pockets, root planning is the process of removing plaque from the tooth roots.
Generally, there is little care after a routine dental visit – provided the patients to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine.
Follow up appointment: Your dentist will likely have you come back to ensure the gums are healing properly and that the gum pockets are no longer too deep.
Keeping the mouth clean: While cleanliness is important at all times, it is especially essential to keep bacteria at bay after a deep cleaning. You may be prescribed with a special antibacterial mouthwash.
Antibiotics: Antibiotics are not routinely prescribed after routine cleaning, but they may be prescribed after a deep cleaning.
Signs you might need a deep cleaning
During a dental visit, your dentist will be able to discuss if and when you need a deep cleaning. The following signs are indications that you might benefit from a deep cleaning:
Deep gum pockets: A special probe can measure the gum pockets. Typically, a gum pocket that measures deeper than 4 – 5 mm indicates the presence of periodontal disease. Healthy gums do not have pockets greater than 3 mm deep.
Bone loss: Detectable through an X-ray, the presence of bone loss may indicate disease. Diseases such as periodontitis could also benefit from a deep cleaning.
Inflamed gums: If your gums are chronically inflamed, you may require deep cleaning.