A deep cleaning is a little bit different from the normal teeth cleaning most people get when they go to the dentist.
Getting a deep cleaning is specifically for people with gum disease or who have signs of gum disease. This is found through a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation.
What your dentist will do for this evaluation is measure the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research says a normal healthy depth is about 3 millimeters or less. If your dentist measures and you have a deeper space, they may suggest a deep cleaning to prevent gum disease.
Deep cleanings are also referred to as scaling and root planing.
Step 1: Scaling
Scaling is what is done during your normal cleaning. This is where the dental hygienist removes plaque and tartar from your teeth and around the gum line. The difference with a deep cleaning comes from the root planing.
Step 2: Root Planing
Root planing is the process of cleaning below the gum line where plaque and tartar have been collecting. The dentist will use either traditional dental tools like a scaler, or they may use a laser to remove any plaque and tartar not normally picked up from just scaling. Root planing also involves smoothing the roots’ rough spots where bacteria can gather. The entirety of the procedure may take several appointments to complete depending on the level of severity.
Once the initial deep cleaning is completed, your dentist will instruct you on proper oral health techniques. You will also schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist to have them check to make sure your gums are becoming healthier.