female dentist with male patient

Deep Cleaning – Scaling & Root Planing

Deep cleaning sounds like it’s just a longer version of your regular dental cleaning, but it is much more than that. It is a specific procedure performed by a dentist to treat periodontitis (gum disease). Also known as scaling & root planning, deep cleaning, is cleaning that takes place below the gumline with the goal of stopping further bone loss and decay from periodontitis.

How Do I Know If I Need A Deep Cleaning?

A deep cleaning is necessary if tartar (hardened plaque) is detected under the gumline and there are signs of bone loss. When tartar & plaque are not removed, they start to increase in size and start to move under the gums. This causes an inflammatory response much like when you get a splinter in your skin. This response or localized infection cause the bone to move away from the irritant. This ultimately causes bone loss and a periodontal pocket. This is a deep pocket around your tooth that is even more prone to entrapment of food and debris as bone loss continues.

A deep cleaning removes those deposits that form on the surface of the tooth’s root. The goal is to stop further loss and maintain healthy gingiva free of periodontal pockets and bleeding.

before and after of a deep cleaning result

Interested In Deep Cleaning In Arlington, VA?

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Deep Cleaning Process

scaling and root planning

Deep cleaning consists of two steps, scaling & root planing. First the dentist will perform scaling which involves removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and from the deep pocket area between the tooth and the gum.

Then your dentist will smooth out your teeth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth. This is called root planing. Deep cleaning may take more than one visit as they may go section by section allowing your gums to heal in between appointments.

Your dentist may also insert medication (subantimicrobial-dose doxycycline) directly into the periodontal pockets during your deep cleaning. This helps fight the infection and let your gums heal.

After the initial deep cleanings, these patients are seen for periodontal maintenance visits which generally occur every three-to-four months due to risk of developing subgingival calculus one again.

Deep Cleaning Aftercare

After a deep cleaning you may experience pain and tooth sensitivity for up to a week. Your gums will most likely be swollen, bleed, and feel tender. To prevent infection the dentist may prescribe a pill or mouth rinse.

It is necessary to take proper care of your teeth and gums after your deep cleaning to keep them healthy and to help fight tartar and plaque from building up again. Follow out dental hygiene tips below.

  • Brush twice a day (once in the morning, once in the evening)
  • Brush for 2 minutes at a time
  • Use a soft bristle tooth brush and change it every 3-4 months
  • Floss daily
  • Come in for regular cleanings & checkup appointments

If you’re suffering from periodontal disease and think deep cleaning might be right for you give us a call at 703-822-5583 or contact us to learn more or schedule an appointment.