The Difference Between Regular and Deep Dental Cleanings

Learn about what sets regular dental cleanings apart from deep cleanings. Find out why you may need a deep dental cleaning instead of a regular one.

The Difference Between Regular and Deep Dental Cleanings

Practically everyone knows how important routine dental cleanings are to help prevent both tooth decay and gum disease. But what is the difference between a regular dental cleaning and a deep cleaning? While regular cleaning focuses more on the gumline to flake and polish the outer surface of the teeth, deep cleaning of the teeth involves removing bacterial colonies and tartar from the roots of the teeth. Deep cleaning is also known as root scraping and smoothing. Removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and from the gum pockets is known as desquamation, while root planning involves removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the roots.

Unlike regular cleanings, deep cleaning may require more than one appointment due to the breadth of cleaning needed. In some cases, a follow-up visit may also be necessary to monitor the health of the teeth and gums, especially if pockets have formed. Because it's done below the gumline, deep teeth cleaning uses local anesthetics to numb your gums, or if your gums are very sensitive or you're anxious, sedation can be used to keep you calm and comfortable. Root scraping and smoothing (also known as SRP, SCRP, or deep teeth cleaning) is a non-surgical cleaning that focuses on areas of the mouth with a strong buildup of tartar under the gums.

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. A deep cleaning or “SRP” isn't just an intensive or “better” cleaning that's done from time to time, but it's a special type of preventive procedure that's used if you have signs of bone loss and tartar buildup. A deep cleaning is more rigorous than the usual preventive cleaning that is scheduled every six months. However, if the number is higher than four, you'll need deep cleaning instead of regular maintenance cleaning.

You'll only need regular dental cleaning for six months and an oral exam to clean your teeth and make sure your mouth is healthy. The carpenter will use special dental tools to clean the plaque and tartar between the teeth and gums. As the name suggests, deep dental cleanings provide teeth with deep cleaning, using special techniques to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria below the gum line and up to the roots of the teeth. Deep dental cleaning eliminates bacteria found below the gum line and around the roots to prevent gum disease from progressing and causing tooth loss.

After the regular or localized deep cleaning is finished, the dentist will re-measure the depth of the probe and then clean and polish the teeth as usual.