Deep cleaning is also known as root planing and scaling. When a dentist or a dental hygienist deep cleans your teeth, the area between the gums and roots of the teeth are cleaned thoroughly. Deep cleaning helps prevent gum disease or periodontal disease that generally develops when bacteria create pockets around the tooth, below the gum line.
Regular cleanings are generally done biannually to treat mild cases of gingivitis and to remove plaque, calculus, stains and tartar from the crown and root surfaces of the teeth. Regular cleaning and regular dental checkups together with flossing and brushing can help prevent gum disease and eventual loss of teeth. The scaling is carried out above the gumline and targets areas where the buildup of calculus is maximum (the insides of the lower front teeth and the outside of the upper molars). Calculus has a tendency to build up in these areas as the salivary glands are situated in these locations and calculus build up is associated with the chemical makeup of saliva.
Plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth create the right environment for bacteria to thrive. These bacteria irritate the gums and induce bleeding. If you notice your gums bleeding, you should see your dentist as you may have an inflammation of the gums or a condition termed as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can create periodontal pockets below the gumline of the tooth where the bacteria can further damage the tooth. Gum disease can cause the tooth to separate from the surrounding bone and fall out. Deep cleaning is therefore advised to get bacteria out of the pockets and to stop gum disease.
Cleaning the Roots
Deep cleaning or root planing smoothens out the surfaces of the roots and also removes bacteria and infected portions of the teeth. Smoothening of the surfaces of the roots is necessary as the roots of teeth aren’t covered with enamel and thus have a tendency to become rough. Calculus, bacteria and bacterial toxins can easily adhere to and damage these rough surfaces. Tartar deposits and plaque under the gumline are also removed by scaling. At the end of the deep cleaning, the teeth should have smooth surfaces.
Duration of Treatment
Deep cleaning is longer in duration than regular cleaning. Your dentist may decide to give you an injectible anesthesia if the cleaning involves deeper pockets. An antibiotic gel is used to remove the bacteria from the periodontal pockets and the dentist may even irrigate or rinse out the pocket with medications such as chlorhexidine. Depending on the depth of the pockets and the amount of calculus and tartar accumulated, your dentist may decide on 2 to 4 sittings. Each quadrant may be deep cleaned in 4 sittings or the upper and lower halves of the mouth in 2 sittings. Once the pockets are rid of bacteria and the irritant of tartar is removed from the tooth and root surfaces, the gums and roots heal rapidly.
After the deep cleaning and root planing procedure has rid your mouth of periodontal pockets and bacteria, you must regularly clean, floss and brush your teeth to maintain proper oral hygiene.