What Happens During a Deep Cleaning?

Woman getting a deep tooth cleaning.

Having clean teeth means more than just beautifying your smile. Keeping up with teeth cleaning is integral to your dental (and total) health. Clean teeth mean better breath, less tooth decay, and lower chances of gum disease.

But what happens when your daily oral hygiene routine and regular dental checkups aren't enough? Sometimes your dentist will tell you that you need a "deep cleaning." We know this might come as a surprise. And like many patients, especially those of us who suffer from dental anxiety, you may have a lot of questions about getting a deep teeth cleaning.

Why Do I Need a Deep Cleaning?

When your dentist recommends a deep cleaning, it is often because a routine cleaning will not be sufficient to address your dental issues. You should always feel free to ask your dentist why he or she is recommending a deep cleaning (or any treatment) and what you can do in the future to maintain your dental hygiene and avoid the need for more deep cleanings.

Below are some common reasons your dentist will recommend a deep cleaning.

Lapse in Dental Care

You haven't visited the dentist in a while? It happens. But without regular cleanings, dental hygiene can suffer and a deeper, more thorough cleaning may be needed. After your deep cleaning, make sure to get a routine cleaning twice a year.

Gum Disease

If your gums are infected, swollen, or tend to bleed, a deep cleaning may help get them back to good health. If you have had gingivitis in the past, your dentist may recommend deep cleanings once in a while to stave off a recurrence.

Tartar Buildup

Tartar is the hardened white substance that clings to your teeth as a result of plaque buildup. It can appear on the visible parts of teeth but can also reach below the gumline. While good brushing and flossing habits may keep plaque at bay, once tartar forms, your teeth will require professional cleaning.

Receding Gums

If the space between your tooth and gums is too large, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning to be sure the area is free of debris and infection, which will encourage your gums to better adhere to your teeth.  

Deep Cleaning vs. Regular Cleaning

If you haven't heard of a deep cleaning you may wonder how it differs from a routine cleaning. The short answer is that a deep cleaning is more thorough than your regular cleaning.

We recommend a standard dental cleaning every six months. Your teeth will be evaluated, plaque and tartar will be scraped from the visible surfaces of your teeth, and you will receive a restorative fluoride treatment, which is all excellent for your teeth.

A deep cleaning goes beyond your typical cleaning, reaching below the gum line. Your provider will scrape tartar buildup from under your gums and even clear the root area of worrisome debris. A deep cleaning will dedicate more time than a typical cleaning to access these areas and clean them thoroughly.

What to Expect

Deep cleaning is done in your regular dental office. It may take longer than your typical cleaning and may even require multiple visits. Depending on the extent of your cleaning, a deep cleaning may be more uncomfortable than a routine cleaning. But don't worry, local anesthetic is often used to ease any pain.

After a deep cleaning, you may experience some soreness, swelling, and a little bleeding. Hot or acidic foods are not advised, and it may be a good idea to stick to softer options directly after a deep cleaning. Your dentist will give you specific recommendations for after-care, including how to brush gently and whether you will need to take an antibiotic.

I'm Still Nervous About My Deep Cleaning

If you're anxious about treatment, ask us about your sedation options. Your comfort is our top priority, and we can discuss ways to address and minimize your anxiety.

Don't delay getting a deep cleaning. Schedule your appointment now to get your dental health back on track.

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