Have you been told that you need a deep cleaning? There’s a big difference between someone who needs a regular, routine cleaning and someone who requires a deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing. Individuals with periodontal disease (gum disease) harbor more harmful, destructive bacteria that have the potential to destroy your jaw bone and other supporting structures thus leading to tooth loss.

A routine teeth cleaning, or, preventive cleaning, maintains a healthy mouth and is typically done every six months. At each visit, a comprehensive dental health exam is conducted and measurements of the gum tissue are taken. With a diagnostic tool called the periodontal probe, measurements are taken. Those within the 1-3mm range that have no bleeding are recorded as having no active disease present. When bleeding (inflammation) is present and the numbers reach 4mm or above, the bacteria causes the gum tissue to pull away from the tooth, causing pockets. When this happens, intervention is necessary to prevent further destruction.

To proactively treat the progressive nature of periodontal disease, appointments are usually separated into two visits. For patient comfort, numbing of the teeth and gum tissue may be necessary to effectively remove tartar buildup below the gumline. Usually, one half of the mouth is treated and it is recommended for the other half to be completed within one week of the first periodontal treatment. Sometimes, adjunctive therapy is necessary which may include antimicrobial rinses, localized antibiotics, or salivary testing. After completing initial periodontal therapy, your oral health will be reevaluated and based upon the status of your periodontal disease, and three to four month periodontal maintenance cleanings will be recommended to prevent relapse.