Is a Dental Deep Cleaning Necessary?
Imagine this. You visit your dentist for a routine cleaning and check up exam. Then after examining your entire mouth, the dentist tells you that the condition of your gums are not good and that you need some kind of special procedure to fix it. The dentist tells you that you need deep gum cleaning. What is a deep teeth cleaning and why do I need it? You start to wonder and ask yourself – “is a dental deep cleaning necessary?”
Your gums can get to a point where they are so bad with a gum infection that they start to detach from your teeth. This leads to spaces known as pockets. This can expose your bones and cause bone loss. This is the stage where a deep cleaning is highly recommended. It may be necessary to save your teeth. But what exactly is deep mouth cleaning?
What is a dental deep cleaning?
A dental deep cleaning is also known as scaling and root planing (SRP). A scaling and root planing cleaning is a process where your dental hygienist cleans off all the plaque and calculus. This plaque and build up is not just on your teeth, but also below your gum line and in the infected gum pockets. The dental hygienist will also clean the surfaces of your tooth roots.
Is a dental deep cleaning necessary? This procedure is usually recommended when your dentist believes that your gum disease cannot be managed by adequate dental care at home. Once gingivitis has advanced into periodontal disease then it must be treated at a dental office with a deep teeth or gum cleaning. One cannot adequately clean out the plaque, calculus and bacteria out of deep gum pockets at home.
A periodontal cleaning is usually the first line of action in the treatment of advanced gingivitis or the periodontitis. With the help of a SRP deep cleaning, there may be no need to undergo more drastic treatment options for your gum disease.
Root planing helps to get rid of tartar or calculus build up from your roots. It also helps to smoothen out any rough spots and eliminate harmful bacteria.
The procedure removes bacteria that can worsen your gum disease. Lots of harmful bacteria can grow in those deep gum pockets. Scaling and root planing creates a smooth surface for the reattachment of your gums. This process could require a couple of hours scheduled into several dental visits and will be performed by the dental hygienist. You will most times be administered with a local anesthetic.
Traditional dental tools such as an ultrasonic cleaner, scalers, and a laser will be used to get rid of plaque, bacteria and tartar.
To reduce discomfort, as well as bleeding and swelling, a laser may be used instead of traditional methods of deep gum cleaning. However, a laser use must be done by a specially trained professional. Your dentist may also apply antimicrobials below your gumline to help eliminate bacteria.
Here’s why you need scaling and root planing
A study released in the American Dental Association Journal revealed that patients who have chronic periodontitis can benefit from SRP deep cleaning. This condition is more severe than gingivitis and is prevalent in over 47% of adults that are 30 and above in the US.
Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria responsible for causing gum disease. It always forms on the teeth and could result in gum inflammation if you do not clean them well. This can cause your gums to start pulling out from the teeth, causing pockets. As plaque continues to build up in those pockets, you can no longer get rid of them with a regular toothbrush. This could lead to gum disease and escalate into the loss of tooth and bone.
Should your gums become so bad that they start to create spaces, the only other option apart from actual surgery is to undergo a deep gum cleaning. A professional cleaning might be enough if your gum disease has not done severe damage below your gum line and if detected early enough. But if the pockets created have become too deep, the best option at that point is scaling and root planing.
Preparing for your deep pocket cleaning
On paying a visit to your dentist for the deep dental cleaning, there will be inquiries about your history. You should always thoroughly and correctly fill out your full medical history. The reason this is so important is because a deep cleaning could cause bacteria to infiltrate your bloodstream.
Do you have liver disease? What about a heart condition? Or, have you ever replaced any joints? Do you have AIDS or other kinds of sicknesses that could potentially compromise your immune system? These factors could increase the possibility of getting infected after a deep dental cleaning.
The dentist will be extra careful to reduce the risk of getting bacteria during the process and will also recommend some antibiotics before commencing the procedure.
Patients who use certain blood-thinning drugs may be asked to stop prior to the procedure. But your dentist will have to work with your doctor to reach that decision. That’s basically all you need to prepare for your scaling and root planing.
Normally, a deep gum cleaning will be completed within 1-2 hours in a single visit. But should you have a widespread infection or too many trouble spots, the dentist may perform the procedure on specific quadrants per visit. Sometimes insurance plays a role in how many visits you will need.
Caring for your gums after deep cleaning
At the end of the gum cleaning procedure, you will receive home care instructions for your gums after the deep cleaning. An appointment will also be set to monitor your condition. Every 3 months, you might have to go in for regular cleanings to keep your teeth and gums in good shape. This will help to enhance healing while preventing any form of infection. The dentist will keep measuring the dental pockets to see how well your situation is improving.
Generally, the response to a deep mouth cleaning is good in many patients. And with the subsequent home care therapy, you should start to notice your gums improving.
The pockets will begin to shrink with time which should show you that your gums are coming back to their firm and pink state.
It is normal to experience pain for a couple of days at most, as well as tooth sensitivity, after a deep dental cleaning. You may also experience swelling, bleeding, and tenderness.
To help your situation, you will likely receive prescription pills or a recommended mouth rinse from your dentist. They may also go on to insert medication in the cleaned gum pockets.
So the answer is yes. If you have advanced gum disease, in order to save your teeth, a dental deep cleaning is necessary.
An SRP deep dental cleaning can help to protect you from severe gum disease and get your teeth and gums back into a healthier state. Remember to maintain an adequate dental routine at home to prevent the condition from coming back. Also, don’t forget to keep the follow up appointment as this is essential to monitor the progress of your gums after treatment.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.