What Is a Deep Cleaning, and When Do You Need One?

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Regular brushing and flossing aren’t always enough to avoid tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and other oral health problems. In addition to home oral hygiene practices, you need biannual exams and cleanings to remove plaque buildup and cavities. If you have gum disease or periodontal issues, your dentist may recommend deep cleaning to protect your oral health.

What Is Deep Cleaning

A deep cleaning, also called gum scaling or root planing, removes plaque and tartar beneath the gumline on the tooth root. Plaque is a sticky film filled with bacteria, which forms when saliva combines with food particles. Brushing and flossing don’t remove all plaque, and the leftover plaque hardens into tartar, leading to gum disease.

Regular teeth cleaning, which occurs during your routine dental appointments, removes plaque and tartar above the gum line. If the plaque has advanced below the gumline to the tooth roots, a deep cleaning is necessary to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.

Who Should Get Deep Cleaning?

During your routine exams, your dentist checks for signs of gum disease, such as inflamed and bleeding gums. We also measure the space between your teeth and gums because periodontal issues cause gums to pull away from your teeth. Over time, the pockets between the gums and teeth widen, creating more room for bacterial colonization.

If you haven’t gone to the dentist in a while, then you may suffer from bad breath, tender gums, sensitive teeth, and changes in your bite, which indicate gum disease. If your dentist determines you can’t reverse mild gingivitis with at-home brushing and flossing, then a deep clean is necessary to save your oral health.

What Happens During Deep Cleaning?

Deep cleaning consists of two procedures: scaling and root planing. Scaling is the first step, where your dentist gently removes plaque and tartar below the gumline.

Root planing involves smoothing the tooth roots, making it hard for bacteria to stick to them. The dentist may apply an antibiotic gel or recommend an antibiotic rinse to kill bacteria hiding in hard-to-reach places.

Typically, deep cleaning occurs in multiple visits, depending on the severity of the buildup on your teeth. Your dentist uses numbing cream or local anesthesia to maximize your comfort during the procedure.

After Deep Cleaning

Your gum tissue will feel sensitive after deep cleaning, so eat soft foods like mashed potatoes and yogurt and avoid extremely cold or hot products. Your dentist will offer instructions and tips on brushing and flossing techniques and recommend an antimicrobial toothpaste to keep bacteria at bay. Gum disease can recur after a deep cleaning if you do not follow a proper oral hygiene routine, so brush and floss daily, keep up with dentist appointments, and eat a healthy diet.

Deep Cleaning for Better Gum Health

Deep cleanings aren’t necessary for everyone, but they may save your teeth and gums if you have gum disease. Deep cleaning is a minor dental procedure that goes a long way in restoring your oral health. Don’t hesitate to contact your dentist if you notice signs of gum irritation.

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