Deep cleaning of your teeth performed by your dentist or dental hygienist is a procedure known as scaling and root planing. It is a non-surgical treatment that removes plaque, tartar, and calculus that has developed beneath the gum line. The treatment may take a couple of hours, depending on the amount of plaque that needs to be removed. For that reason, deep cleanings are often spread out over two appointments.
Why Would My Dentist Recommend a Deep Cleaning?
If your dentist has told you that you need a deep cleaning it is because you have gum disease. Gum disease develops as the result of plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth below the gum line. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to infection, and ultimately periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Deep cleaning shares one major characteristic with regular dental cleaning: it removes plaque. However, during deep cleaning, the plaque is located near the root of the tooth, so the hygienist or dentist must use specialized tools to carefully remove the plaque without damaging the gum tissue. The teeth are first cleaned of plaque and tartar (scaling). Then the roots of the teeth must be smoothed (root planing) to promote reattachment of the gum to the tooth root.
What To Expect During Your Deep Cleaning
When you arrive for your deep cleaning, you’ll have a topical numbing agent applied to the gum surrounding the area to be treated. Then you will receive lidocaine to completely numb the area of the mouth to be treated.
The dentist or hygienist will then begin scraping plaque and tartar from the teeth, before smoothing the roots of the teeth. Your mouth will be treated one quadrant at a time. Each quadrant will undergo the same treatment.
Because a deep cleaning takes longer than a regular dental cleaning, some patients may grow tired of holding their mouths open. That’s why deep cleanings are often spread across two appointments. Other patients may prefer to have the entire treatment performed in a single visit.
Recovery from Dental Deep Cleaning: What To Expect
After your treatment, it is normal for your mouth to remain numb for a while. Do not eat anything while your mouth is numb, as you run the risk of biting your cheek or your tongue.
You may experience a bit of tooth sensitivity in the days immediately following your treatment. You may also experience tenderness of the gums. An over-the-counter medication often provides relief.
You will likely be most comfortable sticking with soft foods on the day of your treatment, and potentially the following day. Once you feel comfortable, you are free to eat normally, though you should avoid any foods that can become trapped in the gums for the first week. These may include seeds, nuts, popcorn, or other crunchy, small items that can get pushed into the gum. Within a week, your gums will be reattaching to your teeth, and you will be free to resume your normal diet.
If your dentist finds signs of infection in the gum during your deep cleaning, you may be prescribed an antibiotic. Take the medication exactly as prescribed. Your dentist may also suggest a gentle saltwater rinse after the first 24 hours following your treatment.
Book a Dental Cleaning and Exam on the UWS
If you haven’t had a dental exam or cleaning in the last six months, it’s time to book an exam at Smiles on the Upper Westside. If you have gum disease requiring deep cleaning, our staff will schedule your treatment quickly, to get your gums back to excellent health. Book your appointment online, or call 212-222-5225 to schedule.