Dental Tips Blog


How is a Deep Cleaning Different from a Regular Cleaning?

Posted in Gum Disease

If you’ve spent years away from the dentist or simply got behind on your oral hygiene, your dentist might tell you that you need to have a deep cleaning. Many people say “but I just want to have my teeth cleaned like normal” without understanding the difference between the two types of cleanings and the benefits that one may have over the other.

A deep cleaning is technically referred to as a periodontal scaling and root planing procedure. This therapeutic cleaning is usually performed one quadrant of the mouth at a time, with one or two quadrants completed during each visit (depending on the severity of gum disease and number of teeth present.) Local anesthesia may be used as well, to keep the patient comfortable. During a deep cleaning, the large amounts of plaque and tartar deposits are removed from deep gum pockets caused by gum disease. More time is required due to the extensive depth of pockets and amount of build up present. Essentially, it is a treatment to help patients reverse active gum disease.

Routine cleanings are called prophylactic cleanings, which means they are preventive in nature. During a regular prophy (what most people know as a “cleaning”), mild to moderate amounts of buildup are removed along the gumline and out from shallow gum pockets around healthy teeth. A mild to moderate pocket here or there can easily be cleaned, but the time allotted for the appointment does not accommodate for a thorough cleaning of deep pockets throughout the entire mouth.

Your insurance company requires different codes for the two types of procedures. One is preventive, while the other is a treatment for a disease. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, so early treatment is important for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Eberhard, Mockingbird Dental Associates



Periodontal Maintenance

Posted in Gum Disease

Recovering from gum disease can take time, devotion, and regular maintenance visits with your dentist. Deep cleanings are only the first step; used to remove deep areas of tartar and bacteria that hide under the gums. After that, it’s all up to home care and preventive maintenance cleanings to deter the disease condition from taking over again.

Most patients that have received dental scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will need to continue coming back for periodontal maintenance cleanings every 3 to 4 months until their disease symptoms are reversed. These cleanings feel like a regular cleaning does, but they are focused on the areas where more advanced disease is still active. They are performed more frequently because this infected pocket areas can easily become active periodontal disease again if neglected too long.

As bleeding stops, swelling decreases, and gum tissue re-attaches to the tooth, visits can be spread further apart once again. This time is different for everyone. Some people only require 1 or 2 periodontal maintenance visits before going back on a regular recall schedule, while other people require 3 or 4 visits a year for many years.

The important thing to remember is that periodontal maintenance cleanings help protects your smile, and the life of your teeth. Areas that are inaccessible to brushing and flossing need to be cared for routinely so that they do not become active disease once again.

When left untreated, gum disease can quickly return and cause bone loss, gum recession, and tooth loss. Thankfully, regular care can help many people reverse their disease and keep their smile for many more years.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Eberhard, Mockingbird Dental Associates


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