A deep dental cleaning is a procedure that is used to treat gum disease and prevent cavities. It involves the use of local anesthesia to numb the area, scraping tools to remove plaque and tartar from the roots of the tooth, and antibiotics to fight diseases and promote healing. This type of cleaning usually takes place over two appointments, lasting between one and four hours each. The first step of the procedure is for the hygienist to inject a local anesthetic into the area to limit discomfort.
Then, an ultrasonic scraper is used to clean the teeth, followed by manual scrapers to remove deposits in hard-to-reach areas. Finally, the tooth surfaces are polished with pumice stone or gritty toothpaste. This eliminates harmful biofilm and surface stains. After a deep dental cleaning, patients may experience some sensitivity in their teeth that can last up to several weeks.
Swelling or bruising may also occur, but applying ice to the area can help with this. Dental insurance typically covers four normal cleanings each year, known as “periodic maintenance”. Deep dental cleaning (also known as root scraping and smoothing) is recommended for patients with periodontitis when tartar builds up in the pockets between the teeth and gums and, in some cases, up to the roots of the teeth. If bacteria invade below the gum line, a thorough cleaning is necessary to restore gum health.
If you have been told that you need deep dental cleaning, it's important to treat periodontitis as soon as possible. Gingivitis can generally be treated without deep cleaning, but periodontitis and advanced periodontitis will require it. If the bags are deeper than can be treated with standard cleaning and good home care, you'll need a deep cleaning to eliminate the infection and promote healing.