You brush your teeth morning and evening. You floss. You get your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year. So, why in the world is your dentist suggesting a deep cleaning? Isn’t that for someone who is neglectful of proper dental care?
While this may surprise you, the answer is no. Here’s why:
During regular cleaning visits, my hygienist uses an instrument called a probe to measure the area around your teeth. He or she is checking to see if you have any pocketing (area between the tooth and gum where bacteria could form.) Ideally, normal healthy pockets will be no more than 3 millimeters deep. If the pockets are greater than 5 millimeters, I’ll probably prescribe a deep scaling and root planing appointment.
Scaling and root planing to treat gum and periodontal disease is quite different from a regular cleaning, which focuses on teeth surfaces and the area between teeth above the gum line. A deep cleaning removes bacteria, calculus (tartar) and debris collecting under the gum line. Bacteria growth under the gum line causes an immune response from the body – the area becomes inflamed – much like when you get a splinter in your skin. If left untreated, the infection and inflammation will continue, and could result in loose teeth and bone loss.
Hygienists use electric or ultrasonic instruments and manual scaling tools in the procedure. The scaling procedures remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the roots of your teeth. We’ll discuss whether your procedure will require one or two office visits, and if this procedure is enough to reverse any periodontal disease I have identified.