What is a deep cleaning?
A regular cleaning (prophylaxis) involves scaling and polishing
procedures that remove plaque, tartar (calculus), and stains from the
exposed areas of teeth. The scaling process scrapes away bacterial
plaque and tartar from the tooth. In a regular cleaning, scaling is
performed on the part of the tooth that is exposed above the gum line.
A deep cleaning is a periodontic procedure used to treat
early-stage periodontal (gum) disease. The dentist,
periodontist (gum specialist), or dental hygienist removes the plaque through a
deep-cleaning method that combines scaling and root planing. Scaling
is performed above and below the gum line to remove plaque and tartar.
Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth where germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to
Although deep cleaning is effective at removing plaque
buildup, it does not eliminate all the bacteria that causes gum
disease. When necessary, treatment may also include placing medication such as
Arestin® in gum pockets and/or
taking Periostat®, an oral antibiotic medication.
Post-Treatment Care Instructions
A deep cleaning usually requires two appointments with one side of
your mouth treated at each appointment. A local anesthetic may be used
to numb the portion of your mouth that is being worked on.
- What you may feel after a deep cleaning:
- You may experience some discomfort, soreness of gums, and/or
sensitivity to cold.
- Tenderness may last for 1 to 2 weeks.
- After Treatment:
- Please be careful not to drink hot liquids or chew on the side
that has been treated. Your tongue and lips may still be numb and
you may accidentally injure yourself without realizing it.
- If needed for discomfort, you can take over-the-counter Advil®,
Motrin®, or Tylenol®
before the numbness wears off, usually 1 to 2 hours after the
- Some bleeding may occur; if uncontrolled, place a wet tea bag on
the site for 20 minutes.
- Rinse with warm salt water (1 tablespoon salt / 8 ounce of
water) a few times per day for a few days.
Follow-Up Visits After Treatment
Continued maintenance is very important for your gum and bone
health and to prevent your periodontal disease from worsening. Please
continue brushing at least twice per day and flossing daily. You may
have some discomfort so be gentle. And remember, the most successful
treatment to periodontal disease is from early detection, diligent
home care, and routine professional cleanings.
- A follow-up visit is usually scheduled 3 to 4 months after a deep
cleaning treatment to measure gums for improvement, perform a
regular teeth cleaning, and determine a future routine maintenance
- Maintenance schedule (regular teeth cleanings) is usually 3 to 6
months apart depending on your healing results.
© 2003. All Rights Reserved.
Last Reviewed August 2005