Deep Dental Cleanings: Everything You Need To Know

Why do I need a deep cleaning?

A deep cleaning is needed when you have tartar or calculus build-up on the roots of the teeth. This build-up will cause inflammation (swelling) of the bone around the teeth. This will lead to painful gums, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss. 

How does the dentist determine if I need a deep cleaning?

Your dentist will use multiple methods and tools to tell if you need a deep cleaning. This includes the clinical exam, periodontal probing (a measurement around each tooth), and digital x-rays to look at the bone levels and shape.

Clinical Exam: Your dentist will be looking for swelling and bleeding of the gums around the teeth. Another factor your dentist will look at is if the teeth are mobile. Teeth that are able to be moved with light finger pressures can suggest severe bone loss.

Periodontal Probing: There is a pocket around each tooth (sulcus) that is measured with a small tool called a perio probe. In general, you want to have a pocket depth of 3 millimeters or less.

X-rays: Your dentist will look at the bone level and the shape of the bone near the root of the tooth. With digital x-rays, they’ll check for bone loss and damage, and based on the depth and angle of bone loss, will be able to determine if a deep cleaning is needed.

If your dentist determines that a deep cleaning is necessary, then a regular cleaning will not help to return you to proper oral health.

Does a deep cleaning hurt?

Since deep cleanings are more thorough, and go further below the gumline than regular cleanings, they can potentially cause some discomfort or pain. To ensure your comfort during your deep cleaning, your dentist will numb the treatment site before beginning. After you are numb you will feel pressure and vibration but will be free of pain for the procedure.

How long does a deep cleaning take?

The amount of time a deep cleaning takes depends on several variables.

  1. Whether it’s a partial or full-mouth cleaning
  2. How severe the damage is
  3. Patient anxiety level
  4. Other medical conditions

In some cases, only a few teeth or one area of the mouth will need a deep cleaning. Typically for a full-mouth deep cleaning, only one-half of the mouth is done per appointment.

For a half-mouth deep cleaning, you can expect an appointment time of around 90 minutes. This will also allow for time for post-treatment x-rays and to review after-care instructions. 

How much does a deep cleaning cost?

This depends if the whole mouth or only part of the mouth is treated. Your dentist will most likely bill for one of two insurance codes, one for if only 1-3 teeth need to be treated and another if a whole quadrant needs to be treated. Your dentist also may need to charge for medication used around the tooth to help increase the chances of success for your deep cleaning.

Your insurance coverage will depend specifically on your dental insurance plan. Make sure to contact your dental insurance provider to find your specific coverage. The most common coverage I have seen is 80% in my patients.

Warning Signs You May Need a Deep Cleaning

It's essential to practice good oral hygiene to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, even with regular brushing and flossing, bacteria can accumulate on teeth and form plaque, leading to gum disease. If you notice any of the following warning signs, it's time to schedule a deep cleaning appointment with our lead dentist, Dr. Burkitt:

  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Receding gums or longer-looking teeth
  • Pus around the teeth and gums

What Does a Deep Cleaning Entail?

A deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is a non-surgical dental procedure that involves removing plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line.

Here's what to expect during a deep cleaning:

  • Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area being treated.
  • Scaling: Your dentist, in this case, Dr. Burkitt, will use special tools to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and roots.
  • Root Planing: The roots are smoothed out to remove rough spots where bacteria can hide and promote healing.
  • Antibacterial Rinse: An antimicrobial rinse may be used to kill any remaining bacteria.
  • Follow-up Appointment: Dr. Burkitt will schedule a follow-up appointment to assess the success of the deep cleaning and ensure that your gums are healing properly.

After Procedure Care Instructions

It's important to follow these care instructions after a deep cleaning to promote healing and prevent further damage to your teeth and gums:

  • Avoid eating or drinking for at least an hour after the procedure to allow the anesthesia to wear off.
  • Take any prescribed antibiotics or use medicated mouthwash as directed by your dentist.
  • Avoid brushing or flossing the treated area for the first 24 hours to allow for healing.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing technique for the first week.
  • Use a saltwater rinse to help reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Avoid smoking or using tobacco products, as they can slow down the healing process and worsen your oral health.

How Often Should I Get a Deep Cleaning?

It depends on your individual oral health needs. Our lead dentist will evaluate your condition and recommend a cleaning schedule that's right for you.

Will a Deep Cleaning Hurt?

You may experience some discomfort during the procedure, but we’ll use anesthesia to minimize pain. After the procedure, you may experience some sensitivity or soreness, but this should subside within a few days.

How Long Does a Deep Cleaning Take?

The length of the procedure depends on the extent of your condition and the number of teeth being treated. It may take one or multiple sessions to complete the cleaning.

Can a Deep Cleaning Reverse Gum Disease?

While a deep cleaning can help remove plaque and tartar buildup and promote healing, it cannot reverse gum disease completely. It’s essential to continue to practice good oral hygiene and schedule regular checkups and cleanings to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Is a Deep Cleaning Covered by Insurance?

Most dental insurance plans cover deep cleanings as a preventive measure to maintain oral health. However, coverage may vary depending on your plan and individual circumstances.

What benefits will I experience after a deep cleaning?

Immediately after a deep cleaning you might have some discomfort and aching. After your mouth has had some time to heal you should notice some of the following improvements:

  1. Decreased bleeding when brushing and flossing
  2. Better smelling breath
  3. Better looking gums that do not look puffy or irritated
  4. Less oral pain
  5. Stopping the loss of bone around the teeth
  6. Teeth that were mobile feeling more secure
  7. Decreased tooth sensitivity

If you are in the Roanoke area and would like to have better oral health, please give We Care Dental Care a call at 540-427-7274. Dr. Benjamin Burkitt treats patients of all ages so the whole family can get the quality care they deserve.

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