Deep Cleaning – Scaling and Root Planing

What is Deep Cleaning and When it is recommended?

A Deep Cleaning is a specific procedure performed by a dental hygienist to treat gum and periodontal disease. It is often completed because a person has not had regular professional cleaning appointments every six months.

The Need for Deep Cleaning

When going to the dentist, the dental hygienist will use an instrument called a probe to measure the area around your teeth to see if you have any pocketing. Ideally, a normal healthy sulcus (area between the tooth and gum) will be no more than 3 millimeters deep.  The depth of the gum tissue between the teeth and gums are called pockets when it measures 5 millimeters or more, this provides space for the bacteria to install and develop infection, and the depth of the pocket makes it impossible for the person to properly make his oral hygiene, therefore, infection will only get worst if not accessed by a professional. If the probe readings are greater than 5 millimeters, your dentist might prescribe a deep scaling and root planing appointment with the dental hygienist.

The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that every adult receive a periodontal evaluation each year to determine whether additional treatment is needed.  Measuring pocket depth is just one part of a comprehensive dental evaluation.

Deep Cleaning Process

Deep Cleaning is also known in the dental world as scaling and root planing.  Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and from the pocket area between the teeth and gums, according to the NIDCR.  The dental hygienist can perform scaling and root planing using either electric or ultrasonic instruments or manual scaling tools.

The other part of deep cleaning is root planing.  The dental hygienist will use a scaling instrument to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the roots of your teeth.  A scaling and root planing procedure will require a minimum of two visits as an appointment.  A follow-up visit may be necessary to confirm that your gums and teeth are getting healthier and there is a decrease in the pocket depth.

Care after scaling and root planing appointments

Ideally, after this deep cleaning appointment, the bacteria in the pockets will be removed and in the next few weeks the gums should become healthier if the person is doing oral hygiene properly everyday.