Deep Teeth Cleaning or Scaling and Root Planning: What is It?
Your dental hygienist might recommend deep teeth cleaning if you have signs of periodontal disease. To test for this, your hygienist will measure the pocket depth of your gums where they meet your teeth.
At your dental cleaning every six months, you may notice your hygienist recording some numbers while they probe your gums. They are recording your gum pocket depth.
Healthy pockets should be no more than 3 millimeters deep. If your gum pocket depth is more than 4 millimeters deep, you could be prescribed deep teeth cleaning. This is a proactive treatment for periodontal disease and is crucial to prevent any further complications.
What is It?
A deep teeth cleaning might also be called scaling and root planning. Your hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar buildup that is underneath the gum line with a scaling device. This tool can be a manual scaling tool or an ultrasonic instrument.
Since cleaning underneath the gums can be harsh, we use local anesthesia to make sure the patient remains comfortable. If the entire procedure is done in one appointment, it can take about 3 hours to complete.
Most patients we see opt for a two-part appointment. One half of the mouth is done during the first appointment, and the remaining half is done within a two-week period after the first appointment.
Once a patient requires deep cleaning, they fall into the category of a periodontal maintenance patient. This means that the frequency of their check-ups may be more often, and their at-home care recommendations could be different. For example, a periodontal maintenance patient might come in for a cleaning and a checkup every three months, and we might recommend them to brush three times a day and floss twice.
The reason for this is because once you’ve had periodontal disease, you will always have bacteria in your mouth that can recreate the infection.
The biggest successes we see in treating periodontal disease with scaling and root planning happens when the patient changes theirs at-home oral hygiene routine. If their routine remains the same and we see no improvements, we often have to schedule deep cleanings as often as every other year.
It’s important to remember that every mouth is different. Your hygienist will recommend the proper treatment based on what they gather at your appointments with them. While brushing twice and flossing once per day is the standard across the board, some people will need to do more, especially if they have had deep cleaning for periodontal disease.