What is a Deep Cleaning?

Scaling and Root Planing is frequently referred to as a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning is the treatment of choice for an infectious disease called periodontal disease. A deep cleaning is a procedure that treats the infected area by meticulously cleaning the tarter and bacteria from the teeth and their roots.

So what is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease mainly starts with the formation of plaque around the teeth. Plaque consists of the yellow film on your teeth caused by food and bacteria in your mouth. When plaque mixes with the saliva it hardens over time and turns into tarter. Tarter containing bacteria will irritate the gums around the teeth by attaching to the outer surface of the teeth and roots and releases poisonous toxins. These toxins cause an infection and an inflammation of the gums. If periodontal disease is left untreated, it can ultimately cause bone loss and eventually tooth loss.  It is important to note that the lost bone will never grow back.

How can you treat periodontal disease?

A deep cleaning is usually performed to treat periodontal disease depending on its severity.  A Deep Cleaning or Scaling and Root Planing is normally performed by your dentist or dental hygienist in a couple of visits. The exact number of visits, however, depends on your dentist and the amount of tarter buildup. Often your dentist will choose to administer a local anesthetic to make the procedure virtually painless.  The deep cleaning is either done manually or with an ultrasonic instrument called a Cavitron or sometimes a combination of the two. Both techniques loosen and remove plaque and tarter buildup.  In addition, antibacterial irrigants or local antibiotics, such as Arestin, may be used in conjunction with the deep cleaning procedure to further reduce the number of bacteria around the gums.


Can’t I just get a regular cleaning instead?

The answer is no. A deep cleaning goes below the gum to remove plaque or tarter buildup from the tooth’s root where the bone is affected by the infection, whereas a regular cleaning only removes the plaque or tarter above the gum.  Periodontal disease can not currently be cured, it can only be controlled so it’s important to follow your dentist’s recommendations for follow-up maintenance and treatment.

In addition to routine checkups, performing proper dental hygiene at home is, of course, also important to help prevent the re occurrence of this destructive disease.

Please check with your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any additional questions