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A Dentist Recommended a Deep Cleaning - Do I Really Need It?

What is a deep teeth cleaning?


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 a deep teeth cleaning, they continue to remove tartar buildup below the gum line to the root of the tooth. This process can also be referred to as a “scaling and root planing” and may require a few visits in order to complete the treatment. (This also may depend on what your insurance allows. Some carriers only allow 2 quadrants to be completed in one visit. Your dentist may have recommended 4 quadrants). It is more extensive than a standard cleaning and is designed to treat gum disease and to stop it from becoming worse.

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What’s the difference between a deep teeth cleaning and a regular teeth cleaning?

  1. Your mouth is full of bacteria and plaque, which is why a regular routine of brushing and flossing is recommended. Routine periodic 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 it is difficult to get when brushing. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar and that is what dental professionals clean in a regular cleaning.
  2. If a regular tooth brushing routine 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 or when brushing. 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.
  3. To determine if the infection exists, x-rays and pocket depth charting is taken into consideration. When there is evidence of this infection, the need for a deep cleaning 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!
  4. 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 a 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 a 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 (a 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 even bone loss.

If you are told you need a 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. So if your dentist or hygienist says you need a deep teeth cleaning, you owe it to your overall health to take care of it.

In need of a dentist? We’d love to see you. Request an appointment where we treat every patient like family!

Dr. Oluyemi Workman

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