You’re going to need a somewhat invasive procedure known as deep cleaning of your teeth if you have missed several dental appointments and your gums are in a terrible condition. Deep cleaning is generally known as scaling and root planning. (1)
You may wonder if it’s really necessary, but deep dental cleaning can prevent you from several gum diseases. Deep cleaning of your teeth is required in conditions where the gums have become severely diseased that they are pulling away from the teeth creating deep spaces, known as pockets or periodontal pockets, and exposing the bone.
Root scaling and planning aims to halt the process of destruction of tissue of teeth due to gum infection. Once the plaque and food particles are cleaned out after the treatment, your gums will begin to heal themselves and tightly seal around your teeth within a few weeks.
When to visit a dentist?
Diseased gums tend to pull away from the teeth and form spaces called as pockets. The dentist will examine your gums with an instrument called a probe and check for the depth of periodontal pockets.
If the space between the teeth and gums is more than 5 millimeters, then you definitely need a deep scaling and root planning.
If you notice any of these symptoms then quickly fix an appointment with your dentist as these symptoms can be an indication of gum disease:
- Red and swollen gums.
- Tender or bleeding gums.
- Bad breath and bad taste in your mouth.
- Receding of gums.
- The sensitivity of teeth.
- Loose teeth.
- Pain when chewing.
- Yellowing of teeth.
- Tartar or calculus accumulation in the gum line.
Why do you need a deep cleaning?
We all have a layer of bacteria on the surface of our teeth. These bacteria mix with other substances to form sticky plaque on teeth.
Plaques that don’t get away with brushing and flossing harden and form tartar, which can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning.
In severe cases of gum disease, the inflamed gums begin to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. As these pockets become more profound, more of the tooth surface below the gum line is exposed to bacteria.
Healthy gums have pockets that measure up to 3 mm or a little less than a tenth of an inch deep, pockets deeper than 5mm shows sign of severe gum disease.
Plaque and food debris easily get trapped in these deep pockets. It is essential to clean these pockets to prevent further damage to vital tissues.
Procedure for deep cleaning
- Patients initially receive a local anesthetic to numb the sensation of dental tools probing under their gums.
- The dentist or dental hygienist will use their tools to scrape away plaque and tartar on the surface of the enamel to under the gums. In deep cleaning, the dentist cleans not just along the gum line like in a regular cleaning, but deep periodontal pockets are also cleaned.
- The dentist may also reach up along the roots of your teeth to smooth the softer cementum (outermost covering of the roots) on the surface to prevent plaque from forming in uneven spaces.
- The entire procedure takes about 45 minutes per quadrant of your mouth—upper left, upper right, lower left, or lowers right. It may even take multiple sessions to treat the entire mouth if the damage to your gums is severe.
Scaling and root planning aftercare instructions
Gum disease has a tendency to come back depending on how you take care of your teeth. It’s essential to keep good oral health so as to prevent gum diseases from returning. Here are some easy tips that can help you maintain good oral health:
- Brush your teeth very gently and thoroughly.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Use a warm saline rinse.
- Avoid chewing on hard food products like Popcorn or nuts.
- Eat healthy and soft food.
- Avoid smoking and use of any tobacco-containing products. (2)
- Use an ice compress to reduce swelling and pain.
- Contact your dentist for a checkup visit to make sure everything is healing well.
The bone loss due to periodontitis is irreversible, making it easier for plaque to slip under your gums and cause even more inflammation. Good care of your teeth is required to avoid any further damage and speed up the healing process.
If you have diabetes or you’re a smoker, you generally have decreased blood flow to your gums that slows down the ability of healing for that region.
Your dentist may ask you to come in more frequently for follow-ups as often as every three to four months. (3)
If gum disease is identified early and hasn’t damaged the essential dental structures below the gum line, a professional cleaning should do.
But if the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, then scaling and root planning or deep cleaning of teeth may be required.
Gum disease can be treated but may require regular visits to your dentist, usually every three months in the beginning. Here, your dentist could check the status of your teeth, gums and find out if the bacteria has returned or not.
Maintaining good oral health is essential to prevent gum diseases from returning. The goal of proper oral hygiene is to remove or prevent the formation and buildup of plaque and tartar and to avoid dental issues like caries or gum disease.