What Is a Deep Cleaning and Why Would I Need One?

Mar 02, 2023
What Is a Deep Cleaning and Why Would I Need One?
A teeth cleaning during a six-month dental checkup leaves your teeth smooth, shiny, and looking great. But a true deep cleaning goes beyond a regular cleaning and has the vital goal of treating gum disease.

By the time you need deep cleaning, some gum inflammation has already settled in, putting your dental health at risk. Unfortunately, gum disease is a common problem that affects nearly half of adults over their lifetime. That’s why Roy Hudgens, DMD, focuses on preventive dental care.

Dr. Hudgens and his skilled general dentistry team at Hudgens Dental combine their expert care with advanced deep cleaning techniques, helping you to restore healthy gums and avoid the risk of tooth loss.

Here, our team explains the difference between regular teeth cleaning and deep cleaning and when you need the results of a deep cleaning.

Routine teeth cleaning

At your six-month checkup, our dental hygienist performs a routine teeth cleaning. This is not a deep cleaning, but learning about the process highlights the difference between regular and deep dental cleanings.

Your regular cleaning involves three basic steps:

Step 1: Visual exam

Your dental hygienist begins by visually examining your mouth, often using an intraoral camera to get more details than they can see by simply using a mirror. They look for signs of problems like inflammation, mouth sores, tooth decay, or other obvious dental issues.

Step 2: Plaque and tartar removal

Plaque develops when the sugars you consume mix with saliva, forming a colorless film that sticks to your teeth. If you don’t remove all of the plaque with brushing, it hardens into tartar, which accumulates at your gum line.

Tartar is impossible to remove with regular brushing. The danger of tartar is that it holds bacteria that can invade your gums. That’s when inflammation sets in and gum disease (gingivitis) begins.

During your regular cleaning, your dental hygienist uses a dental scaler — an instrument specially designed to remove plaque and tartar on your teeth.

They may use a manual dental scaler to scrape off the plaque or an ultrasonic scaler. The ultrasonic device has a vibrating tip that chips away tartar (above your gum line), while a water spray washes the pieces away.

Step 3: Polishing

After removing all the plaque and tartar, your dental hygienist flosses and brushes your teeth. They use a gritty toothpaste and a high-powered brush that gently scrubs your teeth. In addition to getting them super clean, the process also polishes your teeth, leaving them smooth, shiny, and looking their best.

Why you need a deep cleaning

You need a deep cleaning when tartar is embedded under the gums, requiring a more intensive removal process than simple scaling. We also recommend a deep cleaning if you have gingivitis (early gum disease) or periodontal disease, which is advanced gum disease with chronic inflammation.

Removing the tartar is essential for healing gum disease and preventing complications. Tartar erodes your teeth while the inflammation damages your gums, erodes the bones, and eventually results in tooth loss.

Deep cleaning process

Deep cleaning is a two-step process that includes tooth scaling and root planing. Tooth scaling is similar to your regular cleaning, but it goes deep below your gum line, and we often use an advanced laser to remove the tartar.

While we use an anesthetic to prevent any pain potentially caused by deep scaling, laser removal is so gentle it usually doesn’t need numbing medication. Laser dentistry also minimizes bleeding and promotes faster healing.

The second step is called root planing. It is similar to scaling but reaches deep below the gum line. During root planing, we remove tartar on the tooth root and carefully smooth the surface, making it easier for the gum to reattach to your tooth. We may also apply an antibacterial medication.

After a deep cleaning, your gums will be tender, and your teeth may be sensitive to hot or cold for a short time. We give you self-care instructions and recommend steps to ease any pain or sensitivity.

If you notice signs of gum disease, like bleeding when you brush, inflammation, and redness, call Hudgens Dental or request an appointment online today.