Many patients may have heard of a deep cleaning and consider that to be the work that their hygienist performs every six months. However, those routine cleanings are not the same as a deep cleaning. Deep cleanings are generally conducted when patients are missing their regular cleanings. These procedures are specifically conducted in order to correct periodontal or gum disease.
When you go to the dentist, your hygienist will use a probe in order to assess the number of bacteria or buildup on or around the teeth. The depth of the gum tissue that lies between the teeth is called pocketing if there are more than 5 millimeters between the gums and teeth. This can be a concern because pocketing can be an area that harbors bacteria that can harm your teeth and deteriorate the enamel.
In the case that your hygienist measures pockets that are 5 millimeters or greater, it is likely that your dentist will suggest that you receive a deep cleaning. This deep cleaning involves scaling and root planning and is typically arranged in a separate appointment.
Deep cleaning is a straightforward service. You will typically schedule an appointment with your hygienist. The appointment time will vary depending on the level of work that needs to be performed.
Deep cleaning involves two processes — scaling and root planing.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the tooth and from within the pockets between your teeth and gums. Your hygienist will use a small tool or electriceor ultrasonic instruments to scrape away any buildup on the tooth and remove it with a rinse or flossing.
After the scaling has been completed, your hygienist will complete root planing. Root planing involves the same tool types as scaling but focuses on the root of the tooth. By ensuring that the root is clean and free of debris or buildup, it allows the gums to naturally heal back over the roots and eliminate or reduce the pocket size.
Deep cleaning typically involves at least two appointments. Your dental office may schedule additional appointments if you require more work, or as follow-up appointments to ensure that your mouth is
healing, and the pocket size is getting smaller.