Dental Tips Blog


What’s the Difference Between a Normal Cleaning and a Deep Cleaning?

When a patient is told that they need a “deep cleaning” they may wonder why they can’t simply have just a normal routine preventive cleaning. Then there are some patients who come in for a routine cleaning and think they’re not getting as thorough of a cleaning, so they insist on getting a “deep cleaning.” It’s understandable that many people aren’t able to recognize the difference between the two procedures and why one may be called for over the other. Here is a basic review of what the difference is between the two:

Routine Cleanings

A routine cleaning is technically referred to as a prophylaxis. Or “prophy,” as your hygienist probably refers to them.  Prophy means preventive, so this is in essence a preventive cleaning procedure. These are performed every 6 months as a way to maintain proper gum health, bone levels, and remove any tartar or plaque from the surface of the teeth, including the root surfaces below the gums. Because patients that receive routine cleanings have lower levels of tartar, only maintenance cleanings are needed in order to remove the bacteria from their mouth.

Deep Cleanings

Deep cleaning is the short term used for “scaling and root planing.” A scaling and root planing procedure (SCPR for short) is prescribed for patients with active gum disease, moderate or severe levels of bone loss, and heavy tartar accumulation on the surfaces of the roots of teeth. Most people that need SCRPs have not seen a dentist regularly or have progressively developed gum disease. All of the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned, as with a prophy, but the procedure is more involved and time consuming due to the amount of buildup and extent of bone loss.

Posted on behalf of Muccioli Dental


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