Scaling and root planing is a more thorough method of dental cleaning that can stop gum disease in its tracks. The procedure allows the dentist to clean plaque below the gum line so that gums can reattach to the tooth’s roots. Knowing the symptoms and when the treatment might be necessary is vital because it…
What is a Dental Deep Cleaning?
If a dentist says that a dental deep cleaning is needed, patients may wonder what it is and what its purpose is. Dental deep cleanings are usually advised after a patient exhibits signs of gum disease in a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) often done annually. This article discusses what the procedure is all about and what patients can expect.
Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation
The process of examining the gums involves the use of a dental tool called a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the gap (also called periodontal pockets) between the gum and teeth. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a good gum pocket depth should be 3mm or less. Anything more than that may be a sign of gum disease and prompt the dentist to suggest a dental deep cleaning with a periodontist. Probing the gum tissue is painless and an important process for anyone during a dental appointment.
A regular dental cleaning involves the dentist removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and along the gum line. A dental deep cleaning involves removing plaque and tartar as well, but it extends below the gum line. Additionally, the periodontist will perform a meticulous cleaning of the root’s surfaces, also known as root planing.
The dentist might suggest a dental deep cleaning if they determine that a patient’s home oral care routine is not enough to reverse a mild case of gum disease (known as gingivitis). It is usually the first step in the treatment of periodontitis, the more advanced case of gum disease. Deep cleanings can help prevent more invasive treatments for gum disease, which, if not treated promptly, can cause tooth loss.
Root planing eliminates plaque and tartar deposits on the roots and smooths rough spots where bacteria tend to accumulate on the root. This procedure is necessary to remove bacteria responsible for gum disease and to provide the gums with a smooth surface for reattachment. Root planing procedures may last between one to two hours over multiple appointments with a periodontist. Patients will typically get local anesthetic or numbing gel before the treatment starts.
The periodontist may use conventional dental tools like scalers and ultrasonic cleaning or a laser to remove plaque and tartar. Using lasers generally results in less bleeding, discomfort and swelling than traditional cleaning methods, but the periodontist needs to be trained on its usage. In certain situations, the deep dental cleaning process may include applying antimicrobials below the gumline to destroy the bacteria.
After the procedure
Patients may experience tooth sensitivity, soreness or bleeding for a few days after the procedure. Additional dental appointments may be necessary so that the dentist can monitor healing progress and check the depth of gum pockets.
Dental deep cleanings are an effective way to save a tooth after bacterial infection. It is necessary to be proactive about oral health to prevent the recurrence of infection and another dental deep cleaning appointment. Aside from brushing, flossing and using antimicrobial dental rinses, patients should watch their diet and visit a dentist regularly for a checkup and regular dental cleanings.
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