Dental deep cleaning, also called root scaling and planing (SRP), is a procedure that has been around for a long time. Our dental hygienists will use an ultrasonic instrument or manual scaling tools to remove the plaque (tartar) on the surface of the enamel under the gums that cause chronic irritation and bone loss. This procedure is different from regular cleaning which only cleans along the gum line. Deep cleaning also targets the roots of your teeth to make the cementum on the surface smoother. This will help keep plaque from forming in spaces that are uneven.
Why do dentists do deep cleaning? Is it really necessary?
Deep Cleaning is a treatment for advanced gum disease. When bacteria within the plaque along your gums release toxins, an immune response is triggered that results in inflammation. This is called gingivitis and is considered to be the early stages of gum disease. Typically patients with gingivitis will experience frequently sensitive gums that bleed easily. If left unchecked, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis whereupon patients experience rapid degeneration of bone and gingival tissue. In the worst cases, teeth can loosen or fall out entirely. Deep cleaning treatment is used to prevent that process from occurring.
During your comprehensive periodontal evaluation, our dental hygienists will measure the depth of your periodontal pockets between your teeth and gums using a periodontal probe. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, healthy pockets are generally 3 millimeters deep or less. If your periodontal pockets are greater than 5 millimeters, a deep cleaning might be a necessary treatment to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
How long does a dental deep cleaning take?
Approximately 45 minutes is used for each quadrant of your mouth that needs deep cleaning. If all four quadrants are in need of deep cleaning, multiple sessions may be required.
Is it painful to get a deep cleaning at the dentist?
Due to the unpleasant probing of gums in the procedure, most patients require a local anesthetic to numb the discomfort from the dental tools used.
How often should dental deep cleaning be done?
Once our dental hygienists have removed the bacteria in the pockets of your teeth, your gums will become healthier over the next few weeks. We recommend a return visit every 3 or 4 months for maintenance. During these follow-up appointments, our dental hygienists will check to see if the deep cleaning was successful and make sure no tartar is reforming under the gums. It is important for the patient to maintain proper oral care at home to prevent further gum disease.