What Is a Dental Deep Cleaning? Scaling and Root Planing Explained

Reviewed by Dr. Matthew Young, DDS

Maintaining a dazzling smile requires good oral health practices like daily brushing and flossing. Regular dental cleanings are crucial for optimal oral hygiene. Still, in some cases, a dental deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, may be necessary for a thorough clean.In this blog, we will explain the process of dental deep cleanings, and explore why patients may require this procedure. We will also discuss the benefits, risks, and post-treatment expectations.

Dental Deep Cleaning vs. Regular Cleaning

Dentists recommend regular cleaning once every six months to maintain optimal oral health. This process typically includes removing plaque and tartar buildup, polishing the teeth, and examining the teeth and gums for any visible abnormalities that may signal future issues.

In comparison, dental deep cleaning is crucial for individuals with gum disease. Scaling and root planing aim to remove bacteria and tartar buildup around tooth roots and under the gum line, preventing the progression of periodontal diseases. This procedure helps reduce gum inflammation, prevent bone loss, and maintain healthy teeth.

Key Takeaway

A dental deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is a non-surgical treatment for periodontitis. It removes plaque and tartar below the gumline to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.

Why Do Patients Need a Dental Deep Cleaning?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums caused by plaque and bacteria buildup. If left untreated, it can progress to more severe stages, leading to tooth loss and other serious health issues.

Some common signs that may indicate the need for a dental deep cleaning include:

  • Receding gum line
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Loose teeth or changes in bite alignment
  • Persistent bad breath

During a dental check-up, your dentist will check for signs of periodontal disease. This involves measuring the depth of your gum pockets to assess the severity of the issue. If the pockets are deeper than 3mm, it may indicate gum disease, and scaling and root planing may be necessary.

Patients with poor oral hygiene may be at higher risk of developing gum disease. Therefore, it is essential to maintain good oral health by practicing regular brushing, flossing daily, and using mouthwash as needed.

Check out our ‘Gum Disease Quiz: How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?’ to help recognize the symptoms.

The Dental Deep Cleaning Procedure

The duration of your dental deep cleaning procedure will depend on the extent of plaque buildup and gum disease. The deep cleaning procedure follows these steps:

  1. Periodontal scaling: Your dentist will use a special ultrasonic tool to remove plaque and tartar buildup above and below the gum line (gum scaling).
  2. Root planing: Your dentist will smooth out your teeth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth. The dentist uses a scaling instrument to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the roots of your teeth.

A local anesthetic may be used to numb your gums and the roots of your teeth. This process may take more than one visit to your dentist, and a follow-up visit may be necessary to confirm that your gums are healing and the pockets have started to shrink.

What To Expect: Scaling and Root Planing Before and After

Before performing a deep cleaning, the dentist conducts a comprehensive examination. This includes dental X-rays to assess bone density and identify underlying periodontal issues. Your dentist may recommend adjustments to your oral care routine in preparation for the procedure.

After scaling and root planing, you can expect to experience some mild discomfort, swelling, or bleeding for a few days following the procedure. Your dentist may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

Post-Treatment Care and Maintenance

Maintain good oral hygiene habits after dental deep cleaning to prevent future plaque buildup and gum disease. It is important to follow your dentist’s post-treatment instructions, which may include:

  • Avoid hard and sticky foods for a few days
  • Use a special mouthwash or toothpaste as recommended
  • Practice proper oral hygiene at home, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings every six months

In addition, it is essential to avoid smoking and tobacco products, which can hinder the healing process and increase the risk of developing gum disease.

Scaling and Root Planing Risks and Considerations

While scaling and root planing is a safe and effective dental procedure, being aware of potential risks is essential. These may include:

  • Discomfort or sensitivity during and after the procedure
  • Gum recession or tooth sensitivity due to exposed roots
  • Infection if proper aftercare instructions are not followed
  • Allergic reactions to local anesthetics or antibiotics used during the procedure

Discuss any concerns with your dentist beforehand and follow their instructions for a safe and successful procedure. 

If you experience severe pain, considerable swelling, or uncontrollable bleeding, it could be a sign of infection. Don’t hesitate to contact Post Street Dental Group if you require an emergency dentist in San Francisco, CA. Our skilled dentists are ready to help!

Prevention Is Key

Remember, prevention is the best approach to maintaining a healthy mouth. Keep up with regular dental check-ups and maintain a solid dental care routine at home to avoid future periodontal issues. By doing so, you can ensure healthy teeth and gums for years to come.

Scaling and Root Planing in San Francisco, CA

Gum disease can progress without proper treatment and cause gum recession, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, and even tooth loss.

At Post Street Dental Group, our skilled dentists use advanced techniques to thoroughly clean your teeth and remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gumline. Scaling and root planing promote gum healing and help prevent further damage.

Take control of your dental health and experience the relief that scaling and root planing can provide. Call us at (415) 986-4534 or use the online booking form to schedule an appointment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Scaling and Root Planing Hurt?

Local anesthesia is used with scaling and root planing to ensure you are comfortable throughout the procedure. Mild pain, sensitivity, or bleeding may follow but can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and proper care.

How Long Does Scaling and Root Planing Take?

The duration of scaling and root planing varies depending on the extent of plaque buildup and gum disease. Usually, the procedure takes two visits to your dentist, each lasting 45 minutes to an hour.

How Much Does Scaling and Root Planing Cost?

The cost may vary depending on the severity of your gum disease, the number of teeth affected, and if dental insurance covers it. Please consult with your dentist for an accurate estimate of the total cost.

If you are searching for scaling and root planing near me, contact Post Street Dental Group.

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