More often than not, when anyone talks about going to the dentist for their regular checkup, they’re typically referring to one of their few yearly visits. Actually, most patients only visit the dentist twice a year. For many of them, this is perfectly acceptable.
However, sometimes you need something just a little more thorough. This will often occur when your gums require a little more “TLC” than can be offered in a regular dental visit. When this is recommended, your dentist (and the dentists in our Garden Grove dental office) call this dental deep cleaning, scaling, or, root planing.
While it’s not hard to let gum disease get out hand without even realizing it, we’re also fortunate that gum disease is a gradually progressing condition that is eminently treatable.
The Diagnosis: So You Have Gum Disease
Your dentist generally diagnoses you with some stage of gum disease after probing your gums to find periodontal pockets. These are areas where the gum has pulled away from the tooth, creating pockets around your tooth’s lower half (and root), which can collect food particles, bacteria, plaque, tartar, and debris.
This can occur for a number of reasons ranging from poor oral care and too-few visits to the dentist, to old age, pregnancy, and diabetes. But fortunately, treatment is relatively simple and completely painless.
How a Deep Cleaning is Different from a Regular Check-Up
While your regular dental cleaning will focus on your entire mouth, including a nice polishing for your teeth – a dental deep cleaning is completely focused on your gums.
Because calculus (hardened plaque and tartar) under the gumline creates a ripe breeding ground for bacteria and decay, it needs to be taken care of.
Scaling & Root Planing (Deep Cleaning) versus Regular Cleaning
Scaling and Root Planing, also known as a dental deep cleaning, is very different from a regular cleaning. A regular cleaning focuses on the surfaces of the teeth and between teeth above the gum line. During a regular cleaning, the teeth are also polished.
A dental deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is needed in order to remove bacteria, calculus (tartar), and debris that has collected under the gum line. Left untreated, this calculus can contribute to inflammation, infection, and tooth loss. So, the two procedures differ a bit.
While your regular visit to the dentist will likely take care of calculus, debris, and plaque above the gumline — it doesn’t account for nasty stuff that has been permitted below the gumline after your gums weakened in response to gum disease. As a result, this requires more prodding and cleansing. But don’t worry! To do so, your dentist will also provide a local anesthetic to make sure the process isn’t painful.
“What Will My Dentist Actually Do?”
The scaling process carefully and methodically removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from your root surfaces, gum, and teeth. On the other end of things, root planing smooths rough areas around the root of your teeth to prevent sticky tartar and plaque from re-adhering to your teeth.
Are you concerned about your teeth? Could it be time to see a dentist nearby after a long absence? Or maybe you’re starting to experience the irritation and inflammation characteristic of periodontal disease.
If any of the above are true, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly dental office in Garden Grove today. Our goal is to help give you better teeth for life, all you have to do is ask!