A dental deep cleaning, sometimes referred to as gum therapy, is a treatment that cleans between the gums and teeth down to the roots. Like a regular cleaning, the hygienist or dentist will clean the tooth, gum line and sides of the teeth. However, in deep teeth cleaning, they continue to remove tartar buildup down below the gum line to the root of the tooth. This process can also be referred to as a “root planing and scaling” and may require several visits in order to complete the treatment. It is more extensive than a standard cleaning and is designed to treat gum disease and to stop it from becoming worse.
What’s the difference between deep teeth cleaning and regular teeth cleaning?
Your mouth is full of bacteria and plaque, which is why a twice daily habit of brushing and flossing is recommended. Routine exams and cleanings help to remove the plaque that builds up on your teeth each and every day. Most of that plaque is found near the gum line, where most of us miss when brushing. Plaque hardens to tartar and that is what dental hygienists clean in a regular cleaning.
If a regular tooth brushing habit isn’t followed, or if you have a genetic predisposition to gum disease, your gums may show signs of gingivitis – red, swollen gums that bleed easily when touched. If left untreated, this can result in periodontal disease, an infection of the gum and bone that support your teeth which can lead to eventual tooth loss.
To determine if the infection exists, x-rays and pocket depth readings are taken into consideration. When there is evidence of this infection, the need for interceptive gum therapy is required with the goal to prevent disease progression. When you hear your hygienist call out 4, 5 or 6, it’s time to take action…yes, the deep teeth cleaning!
To compare a regular teeth cleaning with a deep teeth cleaning is almost like comparing apples and oranges because they are designed to do very different things. The goal of regular cleaning is preventative maintenance and the goal of a deep teeth cleaning is to stop the progression of periodontal disease.
Do I really need deep teeth cleaning?
Only your dentist or dental hygienist can tell you for sure. If your visit to the dentist reveals significant pockets- those 4mm or greater, then you are at risk for (or in the stages of), periodontal disease. This makes you a candidate for the therapy (deep teeth cleaning) and it is highly recommended if you want to stop and prevent the progression of the disease. Without treatment, the bacteria that created the pockets in your gums will continue to create plaque, tartar, and bone loss.
If you are told you need deep teeth cleaning, you’re not alone! According to the American Academy of Periodontology, nearly half of adult Americans suffer from gum disease. Still not convinced? More and more research has shown a direct link between the progression of gum disease and the development of more serious illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, dementia and more. Bottom line, if your dentist or hygienist says you need a deep teeth cleaning, you owe it to your overall health to take care of it.
September is National Gum Care Month, and to honor that, we encourage you to take action and schedule an appointment with your dentist today. But don’t just stop there- take their advice on the type of cleaning you need and save your teeth, and your health!