Regular vs. Deep Dental Cleaning: What’s the Difference?

Regular dental cleaning is necessary for keeping your teeth clean and white, ensuring the long-term health of your teeth and gums, and preventing cavities, decay, and even gum disease. That’s why visiting the dentist at least twice a year is recommended to get your teeth professionally cleaned.

Your dentist, however, can sometimes recommend a deep cleaning, also called periodontal scaling and root planing. Here we’ll explore the differences between these two types of cleaning.

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What Is a Regular Dental Cleaning?

A regular dental cleaning involves the dentist removing all plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. It is typically done without anesthesia and usually takes 20 minutes to 1 hour. If you make regular dental visits every six months for a cleaning and take proper care of your oral health at home every day, you will likely never require deep cleaning.

What Is a Deep Cleaning?

Regular dental cleaning primarily focuses on cleaning and polishing the tooth’s surface at or above the gum line. However, deep cleaning involves removing tartar and plaque from the tooth’s root below the gum line. Deep cleaning is always recommended for those with a buildup of tartar extending to the tooth roots, resulting in swollen gums, bad breath, and other early signs of gum disease.

How Does Deep Cleaning Differ from Regular Dental Cleaning?

Different Purposes for Treating Gum Disease

The primary goal of regular dental cleaning is maintaining the general cleanliness of teeth. However, the primary goal of deep cleaning is treating gum disease or periodontitis, which causes the disease to go into recession. Therefore, deep cleaning is only performed when gum disease is observed.

More Extensive Procedure Done in 2 Appointments

The greatest difference between a deep cleaning and a regular dental cleaning is that deep cleaning is a more extensive procedure. Unlike a regular dental cleaning, deep cleaning is usually done in 2 appointments. The reason for this is that the dentist uses local anesthesia and works on one side of the mouth at the first appointment and the other side of the mouth at the second appointment.

More Time Per Appointment Required

Unlike the shorter dental cleaning appointments, each deep cleaning appointment lasts anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the severity of tartar buildup. Furthermore, a deep cleaning is usually performed in 2 stages:

  1. Scaling: The removal of tartar and plaque below the gum line to the bottom of the periodontal pocket.
  2. Root Planing: The smoothing out of the root surface of the tooth, allowing the connective gum tissue to regrow, reattach to the root of the tooth, and support the tooth once again.

More Frequent Dental Visits Needed for Maintenance

The other key difference between regular dental cleaning and deep cleaning is the maintenance needed. Instead of every six months, as with regular cleaning, you will have to return every three months after a deep cleaning for periodontal maintenance to ensure that bacterial growth doesn’t come back.

Please note that we cannot perform a regular dental cleaning after the dentist has diagnosed gum disease (periodontitis) because it is against our professional and ethical standards.

Why Is Deep Cleaning Important?

Leaving gum disease unaddressed can eventually lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, a deep cleaning, coupled with antibiotics, is usually sufficient to reduce inflammation, resolve minor-to-moderate cases of gum disease, and even improve gum health.

Scheduling an appointment is the first step to a healthy, beautiful smile. Please contact our Miners Ravine Dental Group office in Roseville, CA, via (916) 784 – 3337 or complete an appointment request form.