If your dentist has recommended that you get a deep teeth cleaning, you may wonder how the treatment will differ from a regular tooth cleaning. Here's what to expect if your dentist recommends this procedure.
What is a deep cleaning?
Deep cleaning is a procedure that helps remove the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth and gums.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. It can harden into tartar, or calculus, which brushing alone cannot remove. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease begins with slight inflammation of the gums around the teeth, called gingivitis. If left untreated, it can progress to severe gum disease, called periodontitis, which may lead to tooth loss.
How does deep cleaning differ from regular teeth cleaning?
A regular teeth cleaning treatment helps prevent gum disease and keeps bacteria at bay. Patients who have good oral health and maintain good oral hygiene at home should typically have a teeth cleaning every six months.
A deep cleaning—also known as scaling and root planing—is a more thorough treatment for people with gum disease or gingivitis. The difference between the two cleanings is that a deep cleaning cleans below the gumline.
The purpose of a deep cleaning is to prevent periodontal disease. This condition develops when harmful oral bacteria infect the gums and bones that anchor your teeth in place. Over time, this infection causes inflammation that can lead to severe pain, tooth loss, or other serious health problems.
What happens to the gums and teeth during a deep cleaning?
The dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque and tartar from below the gum line during a deep cleaning. They then smooth, or plane, the rough spots on the tooth root where bacteria can hide and grow. Local anesthesia may be administered to numb the treatment area during a deep cleaning.
Completing a deep cleaning may require more than one appointment. The number of appointments depends on how much work is needed and which teeth are being treated. It also depends on whether medical conditions are present that might affect treatment.
Your treatment may also include antibiotics and medicated mouth rinses to help fight infection and reduce inflammation.
Can teeth fall out after getting a deep cleaning?
Deep cleanings leave the tooth's attachment to the gums and bone intact.
In some instances, a dense buildup of hard tartar “splints” teeth together, concealing the extent of bone loss and creating the illusion of stability. When this buildup is removed, any existing looseness may become more noticeable.
As a result, teeth may feel loose following a deep cleaning. But they’re not loosened or dislodged by the cleaning process itself.
What can you do to safeguard your teeth after a deep cleaning?
The benefits of deep cleaning are immediate. After a deep cleaning, you’re closer to a healthier mouth, but gum disease can still re-occur.
Here’s how you can maintain your oral health after a deep cleaning:
- Brush and floss more thoroughly than you did before. Never skip flossing! Flossing is just as important as brushing for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. To maintain healthy teeth and gums after a deep cleaning, a water flosser (WaterPik) can help ensure that you reach the deep crevices at the bottom of your gums.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks and acidic beverages like soda, sports drinks, or coffee. These items erode your enamel over time and make it harder for your teeth to recover from a deep cleaning procedure.
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, usually every six months, unless your dentist recommends a different schedule. Some dentists like to do a follow-up visit after about three months and then again after six months to make sure that everything is healing nicely.
Learn More About Deep Cleanings and Oral Hygiene
Understanding how a deep cleaning affects your teeth helps you take care of your smile. If you’d like to learn more about deep cleanings, contact us today at 212-888-4140 to schedule an appointment for a consultation with one of our dentists.