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Why does my dentist say I need a deep cleaning?

What is scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing – commonly referred to as deep cleaning – is a dental hygiene treatment which involves a deep cleaning below the gumline to treat gum disease. This deep cleaning is comprised of two steps – scaling and root planing – and is typically completed in two visits.

Scaling - Your dental professional will use handheld instruments or ultrasonic devices to scrape away the built-up plaque and tartar, above and below the gum line, cleaning down to the bottom of the periodontal pocket.  

Planing - After scaling, the rough surfaces on the roots of your teeth will be planed, creating a smooth surface to help your gums reattach to your teeth.

Why do I need a deep cleaning?

Many patients wonder why a “regular” cleaning isn’t enough and question why the deep cleaning is so important.

Gum disease (periodontitis) is the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth. When plaque and tartar build up, this can cause the gums to shrink and pull away from the teeth, creating large pockets and allowing harmful bacteria to reach the roots of the teeth.

A “regular” cleaning (prophylaxis) only removes plaque and tartar from above the gumline. Without scaling and root planing, the bacteria beneath the gums would continue to multiply, and could ultimately lead to tooth loss, pregnancy complications and an increased risk for heart problems and diabetes.

Rest assured that if your dental professionals have recommended a deep cleaning, it is based on clinical findings and critical in preventing further damage to your teeth and gums as well as your overall health.

Does a deep cleaning hurt?

The process may seem intimidating and confusing at first and you’re not alone if you are worried that it sounds painful. 

It is not uncommon for gums to bleed and feel swollen or tender following the treatment. This discomfort should subside within a few days. Your dentist may also prescribe an antiseptic mouth wash to prevent infection.

Your hygienist may apply a topical anesthetic to numb the area before starting the deep cleaning. If you experience dental anxiety or have any concerns, feel free to consult with your hygienist prior to treatment and we will be sure to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. 

What happens after scaling and root planing treatment?

Following this deep cleaning, you will return for a checkup visit to see how your gums are healing and measure the depth of your pockets.

You’ll be put on a periodontal maintenance schedule to return for cleanings every three to four months instead of the standard six.

Think of this deep cleaning as a clean slate. Proper home care and a balanced diet are important, now more than ever, and can help prevent the need for additional gum disease treatments in the future.

Maria Cardenas DMD: Gum Disease Treatment in Greater Boston

Although deep cleaning may seem intimidating at first, your dental professionals here at Maria Cardenas DMD are committed to making sure all your questions are answered and you are as comfortable as possible.

With the information we have covered here today, you should have a more thorough understanding of the deep cleaning procedure used to treat gum disease. We hope this puts your mind at ease and trust that you are in the best hands. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to discuss them with your dental hygienist before your treatment.

Our goal is to provide our patients with the best oral health care and education while building lasting relationships. We believe in getting to know the person behind the smile. You’ll be sure to enjoy a first class experience whether it’s your first or fiftieth visit at our boutique dental practice.

Optimal dental health begins here. In addition to offering gum disease treatment in Wellesley, Maria Cardenas DMD is proud to offer a wide variety of cosmetic, restorative and general dental services. From porcelain veneers to dental implants to Invisalign® and more, we are here to help with all your dental needs!

For more information about gum disease treatment in Greater Boston or to get scheduled at our Wellesley dental clinic, please feel free to call or text us at 781-235-1900. After hours, you can also fill out our contact form and we will reach out to you as soon as we are back in the office.