Deep Dental Cleanings Santa Barbara CA | Deep Dental Cleaning
What is a Deep Dental Cleaning

What Is a Deep Dental Cleaning?

Do your gums bleed when you floss or brush? This may be a sign that you need a deep dental cleaning.

Deep dental cleanings are a special type of teeth cleaning that is more intensive than a regular cleaning. It is often necessary for patients who have gum disease. In this blog post, we will review what signs and symptoms might require a deep cleaning, and what you can expect from one.

Regular Teeth Cleanings by Your Dental Hygienist

First, let's review a regular teeth cleaning (or "prophylaxis") performed by your dental hygienist. You will be seated in a comfortable dental lounge chair. The dental hygienist will typically place a cloth underneath your chin (on the upper body) to catch any flying debris. The hygienist then uses sanitized metal tools to scrape away tartar and plaque from the teeth and gum line.

Once the dental hygienist is done with gently scraping the teeth, your teeth will be brushed and polished with an electric toothbrush and then flossed.

Ideally, your teeth should be cleaned at the dentist's office every six months at least.

When teeth do not get the benefit of regular teeth cleanings at the dentist, plaque and tartar can build up. This creates a home for bacteria, which then starts to eat away at teeth and gums. This can cause gum disease, which we will review next.

What Is Gum Disease, and How Can Deep Cleaning Help?

So, if you need a deep cleaning, it is probably a given that you have gum disease. The official name of gum disease is periodontal disease or periodontitis. Gingivitis, which means inflammation of the gums, is the precursor to full-blown gum disease.

You may have gingivitis if you experience any bleeding after normal brushing and flossing. Healthy gums generally do not bleed with normal daily dental hygiene.

Gingivitis, if left untreated, can progress to become full blown gum disease or periodontitis.

In the early phases of periodontal disease, the gums begin to recede. This means they are detaching from the teeth. This can lead to the development of small pockets that can fill with harmful bacteria. Some bone loss can occur at this stage of the disease.

As periodontal disease progresses, your teeth can actually start to become loose. More bleeding, as well as pain, can occur due to the recession of the gums. The bacterial infection in the gums may not just affect the local area - it can also lead to a body-wide inflammatory response.

Advanced periodontitis can lead to permanent tooth loss, not to mention intense pain, extreme bad breath, and other complications.

For these reasons and more, having a deep dental cleaning can be critical - not just for gum and teeth health, but the health of the whole body.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Remember, periodontitis starts off as gingivitis, which is typically indicated by bleeding or tender gums. As periodontal disease progresses, this bleeding and tenderness can worsen as pockets form. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

If you have the above symptoms, you should contact us at See Me Smile Dental right away. The sooner we start to treat periodontal disease, the better. In many cases, we can reverse the damage or at least halt the progression of periodontal disease.

We will use a probe to check the gums to determine if any pockets exist. Healthy gums will have pockets that are 3 millimeters deep or less. Pockets greater than 5 millimeters are a sign of periodontal disease, and if you have them, we will discuss treatment options such as deep cleaning.

What Is a Dental Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)?

Deep cleaning is used to remove the plaque and tartar below the gumline to destroy the "food" that is the source of the bacterial infection.

Clarifying terms is important here. You may have been told by other dentists about two types of teeth cleaning options for regular maintenance. The first type is "regular" tooth cleaning or prophylaxis mentioned above. The second is a routine periodontal cleaning, which is very similar to a regular tooth cleaning, except it is a bit more involved and works on a deeper level. For this reason, you may think the routine "periodontal cleaning" is the same thing as the deep cleaning we are discussing in this blog post.

But, understanding the differences is important. The two types of routine cleaning (regular tooth cleaning and periodontal cleaning) should be distinguished from the type of deep cleaning that is also known as scaling and root planing.

How a Dental Deep Cleaning Works

A deep dental cleaning goes beyond the routine cleaning we described above. While the standard metal tools will be used, we also use advanced technologies such as ultrasonic devices to go below the gumline to remove hard to reach tartar (also known as calculus). This is called scaling.

Root planing may sound scary, but don't worry, it's not. In root planing, we gently remove cementum, which is a form of calcification on the tooth root. This does not hurt the root but enables it to re-adhere to the gums.

To help maintain your comfort, we use a safe local anesthetic. This serves to numb the gums so you do not feel anything while the scaling and root planing is performed. Additionally, your deep cleaning may be performed in quadrants, so your whole mouth will not be treated at once.

After the procedure, you may feel a little soreness and sensitivity, but this is normal. Over the counter pain medication can help alleviate any residual pain, which should go away on its own in a few days.

As you can see, the deep cleaning is a much more involved procedure than the standard tooth cleaning that you would get after a regular dental checkup.

How to Care for Teeth after a Deep Dental Cleaning

Once your deep dental cleaning is completed, your gums should start to heal naturally. In extreme cases of advanced periodontal disease, additional treatment options may be necessary. But for most cases, the gums should start healing.

By engaging in regular preventative maintenance, your gum health can be restored. This is why it is important to brush and floss daily, and visit us at See Me Smile Dental regularly for checkups and professional cleanings. These will be routine periodontal cleanings, similar to a regular cleaning but more intensive to help the gums heal even further.

We offer the best deep cleaning at See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, California. Contact us today for more information on deep cleaning, gingivitis, and periodontitis.


CALL (805) 284-0826

Request Appointment