Periodontal disease (AKA infection of the gums) is surprisingly common. The CDC has estimated that gum infections affect almost half of the adults in the US aged 30 and over. That percentage increases to over 70% once adults hit age 65.
With so many people suffering from gum infections, there is good news. Deep cleaning teeth can help treat and even prevent gum infections.
Gum infections are the leading cause of tooth loss. Don’t let it happen to you— read our guide to dental deep cleanings instead.
Are you ready to find out everything you ever wanted to know about deep cleanings for your teeth? Then keep reading because this one’s for you!
Regular Dental Cleaning vs Deep Cleaning Teeth: What’s the Difference?
The American Dental Association recommends that adults and children receive dental cleanings once or more times per year. The exact number of times you should see your dentist will vary depending on your oral health.
Regular cleanings have the goal of removing bacteria and tartar that accumulates on teeth normally with time. Deep cleanings are different.
With a deep cleaning, the dentist performs a periodontal scaling and root planning (SRP) procedure. This procedure focuses on the surface of the tooth root. With SRP, the dentist removes infection-causing advanced tartar and plaque buildup.
Who Needs Deep Cleanings?
Some people never have to get a deep cleaning. However, if you have a gum infection causing the gums to pull away from the tooth, deep cleaning will help treat the infection. It will also help prevent the infection from getting worse.
Without deep cleaning, people with gum infections often experience:
- Loss of connective tissue
- Jaw bone loss
- Tooth loss
Even if you have excellent oral hygiene, you may still find yourself in need of deep cleaning. Oral health has a genetic component. That means some people are pre-disposed toward gum infections and disease.
So, how do you know for sure if you need a deep cleaning? It’s time to say “ah.”
Look inside your mouth for red or swollen gums, which is one of the first signs of infection. Your teeth may even look longer. That’s a sign of your gums pulling away from your teeth.
Another symptom of needing a deep cleaning is bleeding gums when you brush or floss your teeth. Missing your twice-yearly cleanings, smoking, having diabetes, stress, medications that cause dry mouth, and hormones can also lead to gum infections.
Who Shouldn’t Get Deep Cleanings?
Individuals with heart conditions, liver disease, AIDS, and other immune system-weakening conditions should not undergo deep cleanings. These people are at higher risk of infection after deep cleanings since SRPs can release bacteria into your blood.
People using blood thinners may not be ideal candidates for SRP procedures either. Ask your prescribing physician if you can stop taking your medication for a few days to have a deep cleaning done.
Benefits of Deep Cleaning Teeth
What’s the greatest benefit of getting a deep cleaning? Deep cleaning teeth can clean up tooth infections and even reverse gum disease.
Gum infections are bad enough on their own. They can cause bad breath, pain, and even loss of taste. Still, that’s not even to mention the negative effects of gum infections that we talked about above.
Deep cleanings don’t just treat the infection itself, though. They also remove bacteria and plaque from other teeth to prevent another infection from occurring in the future.
A final added benefit is better heart health. Infections lead to inflammation, which is hard on your heart. With the infection gone and inflammation reduced, SRP procedures can actually help you improve your cardiovascular health and ultimately live longer.
Disadvantages of Deep Cleaning Teeth
The main disadvantage of deep cleaning is that it can be uncomfortable. That’s why your dentist should use a numbing agent before your SRP procedure.
After your procedure, you may also experience discomfort, pain, or bleeding, especially while brushing. Some SRP patients report feeling sensitive to hot and cold foods after their procedure.
If you’re concerned about these symptoms, talk to your dentist about a pain-relief solution. There are special mouthwashes and toothpastes your dentist can prescribe for pain. Or you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever.
What to Expect from a Deep Cleaning
When your dentist orders a deep cleaning, he or she will perform scaling and root planning on your mouth. Scaling requires cleaning plaque and tartar from your teeth. Root planning is similar, but it focuses on the plaque and tartar on your gums.
Deep cleanings are relatively quick procedures. You can have your deep cleaning done in a 1–2-hour dental appointment. Of course, people with more severe or widespread infections might require future sessions.
After your procedure, your dentist will set up a follow-up appointment. He or she may also recommend more frequent regular cleanings. That way, your dentist can ensure the infection heals properly and doesn’t return.
Deep Cleaning Teeth at Home
While they should never replace SRP procedures performed by a dentist, at-home deep cleanings can supplement professional care.
There are ultrasonic and regular tools on the market for at-home deep cleanings. These devices help target plaque and tartar buildup between the teeth and are more powerful than floss alone. You can even find some tools that help clean bacteria from between the teeth and gums.
Keep in mind that non-ultrasonic tools can be sharp and dangerous. For this reason, we always recommend seeing your dentist before you try an at-home deep cleaning.
More Tips and Tricks from Dental Health & Care
Deep cleaning teeth is necessary for people with higher than normal levels of tartar and plaque buildup. A deep cleaning helps remove the buildup, reduce bacteria, and prevent gum infections from worsening.
You could perform deep cleaning at home, but that should never replace deep cleanings done in a professional dentist’s office.
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