If your dentist has diagnosed you with gum disease, you may be wondering if you can get away with a regular cleaning instead of a deep cleaning. The answer is no. Regular cleaning, or prophylaxis, involves cleaning the surfaces of the teeth above the gums. Periodontal disease, on the other hand, involves pockets or spaces under the gums and requires deep cleaning or root scraping and smoothing to remove plaque and calculus from under the gums.
Deep cleaning is similar to regular cleanings, but it has its differences. For one thing, you'll need to come back every three or four months for these appointments. If you have periodontal disease and want to keep your teeth, you and your dental or periodontal office must work together to keep your mouth healthy. Brush at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and have a maintenance periodontal cleaning every three to four months.
Only your dentist or dental hygienist can tell you for sure if you need a deep cleaning. If your visit to the dentist reveals significant pockets (4 mm or larger), then you are at risk of suffering from (or being in stages of) periodontal disease. This makes you a candidate for therapy (a thorough dental cleaning) and is highly recommended if you want to stop and prevent the progression of the disease. Without treatment, the bacteria that created the pockets in the gums will continue to create plaque, tartar, and even bone loss.
It is impossible to clean pockets with a depth greater than 3 mm at home, so when there are pockets larger than 3 mm, it is important to have your teeth cleaned every three months by a dentist. A deep dental cleaning, sometimes called gum therapy, is a treatment that cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots.