Oral & Vision Health Blog

The Dentist Says You Need a Deep Cleaning…Why?

You've been meaning to get to the dentist.  You remember as a child you went every six months, no matter what. You've been busy lately and haven't had any problems with your teeth, so going to the dentist hasn't been as big of a priority to you as it probably should have been. It's easy to forget how important regular visits to the dentist are, especially when you're not experiencing pain or obvious problems.

When you finally make it back to the dentist, you are relieved to find you have no cavities, but the dentist says you need a deep cleaning, and you can't help but wonder, why? You're proud of yourself just for getting back to the dentist at all, and a deep cleaning sounds long and expensive. Is it important?

When you have evidence of gum disease, the answer is yes. A deep cleaning can save your teeth. Plaque can build up below the surface of the gum line, an area that cannot easily be cleaned by you at home, or at a standard dental cleaning. That plaque causes the gums to recede and can cause bone loss in your teeth.  This combination can make teeth loose, which puts them at risk for falling out. Getting this procedure now will minimize the chances that you will need a gum surgery or false teeth later in life.

How does deep cleaning work?

Deep cleaning of the teeth comprises two parts – scaling and root planning.

Scaling. A procedure where a dental professional removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) collected below the gum line, cleaning all the way down to the bottom of the pocket.

Planning. A deep cleaning that consists of smoothening out your teeth roots so the gums can reattach to your teeth.

Is a deep cleaning necessary?

When your dentist recommends deep cleaning it is usually because he/she sees evidence of bone loss on X-rays or because gum pockets are measuring deeper than 4mm. Only your dentist or dental hygienist can tell you for sure. If your visit to the dentist reveals significant pockets- those 4mm or greater, then you are at risk for, periodontal disease. Without treatment, the bacteria will continue to spread in your gums and create plaque, tarter, and possible bone loss.

Afterwards a deep cleaning, your teeth will feel much cleaner than before. Your gums will most likely feel sensitive so follow specific instructions from your dentist on how to care for your teeth afterwards. Receiving a deep cleaning is like getting a clean slate to begin again with your oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing combined with twice a year standard dental cleaning will keep you from needing deep cleanings in the future.

anatomy of the tooth