Dental Tips |6 min read

Deep Dental Cleaning: What You Need to Know

A female patient checks her results in a mirror with her dentist

Have you noticed changes in your teeth or gums, such as gum sensitivity, red and puffy gums, or bad breath?

Taking care of your teeth is essential for maintaining good oral health, and these changes could be signs that you are developing gum disease and may need a deep dental cleaning.

Brushing and flossing regularly can help prevent cavities and gum disease, but sometimes, regular cleanings at the dentist’s office may not be enough.

That’s where a deep dental cleaning comes in.

In this article, we will explore what a deep dental cleaning is, why it is necessary, what to expect during the procedure, and how to take care of your teeth after to prevent gum disease in the future.

What is a deep dental cleaning?

A deep dental cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is a non-surgical procedure performed by a dentist or a dental hygienist to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. This plaque and tartar harbors harmful bacteria in hard to reach places that can travel into your bloodstream and affect other parts of your body negatively.

A deep dental cleaning is recommended to remove tartar build up and to break up harmful bacteria that is causing gum inflammation and bone loss. This procedure is recommended for patients with gum disease, or significant plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line, causing inflammation and infection in the gums.

Why is deep dental cleaning necessary?

Gum disease is a common dental problem that affects millions of people worldwide.

It is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, leading to inflammation and infection of the gums.

If left untreated, gum disease can cause significant and irreversible damage to the teeth and the surrounding tissues, including the bone.

Deep dental cleaning is necessary to prevent gum disease from progressing and causing irreversible damage to the teeth and gums.

It can also help prevent other dental problems, such as cavities and bad breath, by removing the bacteria and debris that can accumulate in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.

Gum disease is not only harmful to the teeth and gums, but is also linked with certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and Alzheimers.

Signs you need a deep dental cleaning

Do you need a deep dental cleaning?

Here are some signs that you may have gum disease and may need scaling and root planing:

  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain or sensitivity when eating or drinking

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see your dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation.

How is deep dental cleaning done and what to expect?

Before the procedure, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to determine the extent of the cleaning needed.

They may take X-rays to evaluate the health of your teeth and the bone supporting them.

A deep dental cleaning is typically done in two or more appointments, depending on the extent of the cleaning needed.

Before the procedure, the dentist or dental hygienist will apply a topical numbing gel under the gumline, or completely numb the teeth and gums to ensure patients comfort. During the procedure the dentist or dental hygienist will use special instruments to remove plaque, tartar, and harmful bacteria from the teeth and below the gum line.

You may experience some pressure and vibration during scaling, but it should not be painful.
Scaling involves removing the plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and roots using a scaler or an ultrasonic device.

Root planing involves smoothing out the rough spots on the roots of the teeth to prevent bacteria from accumulating in the future.

After scaling and root planing, the dentist may apply a topical antibiotic to the gums, or use a laser, to help prevent infection and promote healing.

Recovery and aftercare

After a deep dental cleaning it is very important to take good care of your teeth and gums to promote healing and prevent reinfection.

Here are some tips to help you recover and take care of your teeth:

  • Avoid hard and crunchy foods for a few days
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash to help prevent infection
  • Follow your dentist’s instructions for aftercare

Risks and complications

Deep dental cleaning carries risks and potential complications like any dental procedure.

These include:

  • Pain and discomfort during the procedure
  • Bleeding and swelling after the procedure
  • Infection
  • Damage to the teeth or gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold

However, the risks are relatively low, and most patients experience little to no complications after a deep dental cleaning.

Deep dental cleaning vs. regular cleaning

A deep dental cleaning is different from regular cleaning, also known as prophylaxis.

A preventative, or “regular” cleaning involves removing plaque and tartar from the visible surfaces of the teeth and is usually done twice a year as part of routine dental care in patients with healthy mouths.

A deep dental cleaning is needed when a patient comes in with inflammation, redness, tissue detachment, and bone loss and a “regular” cleaning will not get the patient’s gums back to health.

This often happens when a patient has not been taking proper care of their teeth at home, has missed preventative dental visits, or has a hereditary predisposition to periodontal disease.

Here is an example of someone who needs a deep cleaning versus a regular cleaning.

Before and after of someone who needs a deep cleaning


Is deep dental cleaning painful?

You may experience some pressure and vibration during the procedure, but it should not be painful.

Your dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic to ensure your comfort.

How long does deep dental cleaning take?

Deep dental cleaning is usually done in two or more appointments, depending on the extent of the cleaning needed.

Each appointment can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

Can deep dental cleaning cure gum disease?

Deep dental cleaning is an effective treatment for gum disease but cannot cure it.

Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are essential for managing gum disease and preventing further damage.

How often should I get deep dental cleaning?

The frequency of deep dental cleaning depends on your oral health needs.

Your dentist will recommend the appropriate interval based on your case.

Does insurance cover deep dental cleaning?

Most dental insurance plans cover deep dental cleaning as a medically necessary procedure for treating gum disease.


A deep dental cleaning is essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing gum disease.

If you experience any signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, bad breath, or loose teeth, it’s essential to see your dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation.

You can keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime with proper care and regular dental visits.


Book your deep dental cleaning appointment today and take the first step towards healthy teeth and gums.

Charles Ashley Mann DDS and Associates help people smile in Cary, Garner, and Fuquay-Varina, NC.

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