Deep cleaning, also known as root scraping and smoothing, is a dental procedure used to remove tartar (hardened minerals) that may be stuck to the teeth. It is often necessary for those with periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Unlike regular cleanings, deep cleaning may require more than one appointment due to the breadth of cleaning needed. During scraping, the dentist or dental hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from the teeth, both above and below the gum line, using handheld instruments, ultrasonic instruments, or a combination of both.
Once the teeth are cleaned by scraping, the dentist will perform root smoothing to soften the roots of the teeth. This two-step process creates a better environment for the gums to reattach to the teeth, effectively closing any loose pouches. Scraping and root planing are two different procedures that are often used together in deep cleaning. Scraping involves removing tartar and bacteria from teeth above the gum line. Root planing is the process by which harmful bacteria and infected tissue are gently removed from below the gum line, creating a clean environment that allows the gums to heal.
A dental hygienist or dentist uses a specialized cleaning device, called an ultrasonic scraper, to remove plaque (26% estimate).Professional dental cleanings are an essential component of preventing gum disease, but there is no single treatment to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It doesn't matter if you visit the dentist regularly or if it's been a few years, an evaluation by your dentist will determine whether or not you need regular cleaning or deep cleaning. If the number is higher than four, you'll need deep cleaning instead of regular maintenance cleaning.