Your Dentist Answers: “What is a Deep Cleaning?”

July 29, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_javeed @ 4:59 pm

Question mark on sticky noteIf you’ve ever been to the dentist, then you’re probably pretty familiar with a standard dental cleaning. Your dentist, or a hygienist, use specialized tools to break up and clear away plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth in order to prevent decay and cavities. However, if this buildup is located underneath your gum line, your dentist may need to perform something called a “deep cleaning.” What is it? How is it different from a regular cleaning? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

What is a “Deep Cleaning?”

First, we’ll state the obvious: a deep cleaning isn’t a special kind of dental cleaning only performed on secret government agents that are deep undercover…that’d be ridiculous.

This term actually refers to a pair of procedures known as scaling and root planing, which are used to treat mild cases of gum disease. The reason they are referred to as a deep cleaning is because they specifically target the area underneath your gum line, deep inside periodontal pockets, which are tiny spaces between your teeth and gums where harmful bacteria likes to gather and multiply.

How Does a Deep Cleaning Work?

Your dentist will only use a deep cleaning if you have developed mild to moderate gum disease. Depending on your particular situation, the entire process can be completed in as little as one visit, or it may take a few. Afterwards, you’ll likely be advised to come into the dentist more often for regular cleanings to protect you from reinfection.

First, your dentist will numb the area they intend to clean using local anesthetic. Then, using small tools known as scalers, they’ll clear away any plaque and tartar from around and under your gum line (scaling). Next, they’ll use these same tools to gently smooth out the rough surfaces of your teeth’s roots (root planing). This will make it much harder for plaque and bacteria to gather on them in the future, which will help prevent you from developing serious gum disease in the future.

Do I Need a Deep Cleaning?

This can only be determined by a dentist, but the signs that you might need a deep cleaning include red, swollen, or puffy gums that tend to bleed whenever you brush your teeth. These are all early indicators of gum disease, and in many cases, a deep cleaning is the best way to contain and lessen the infection so it doesn’t damage your smile.


Dentists have used deep cleanings for years to painlessly and successfully treat gum disease, so if you believe you might need one, it’s nothing for you to fear. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we mentioned above, be sure to contact a dentist in your area and let them know. From there, they can advise you on what to do in order to restore your smile’s health.

About the Author

Dr. Asra Javeed is a family dentist based in Virginia Beach, VA. She has performed thousands of deep cleanings over the course of her career, and she currently practices at Smile Care Family Dentistry. If you have any questions about what you’ve just read, she can be reached through her website or by phone at (757) 498-6420.

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