“Regular” Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning

Our hygienist Jamie describes the differences between a “regular” cleaning and a deep cleaning. She also exposes a big secret about dentist offices across the country.

Transcription of video:

One of the biggest questions we get here in our office is, “What is the difference between a “regular” cleaning and a deep cleaning? And we wanted to make this video to help you understand the difference.

First, a “regular” cleaning, known in dental offices as a prophy, is a preventative cleaning done for the purpose of maintaining healthy gums. Healthy gums are firm, pale pink, and there is no bleeding when you brush your teeth. A regular cleaning can only be done when the gums re healthy and there is no presence of gingivitis or periodontal disease.

A deep cleaning, or what is known as scaling and  root planing in most dental offices, is done when a significant amount of bacteria and tartar has built up underneath the gums. A lot of times you cannot see the bacteria or tartar with the naked eye, but it does cause the gums to become puffy, inflamed, and start to bleed.

Last time you were in a dental office, you might have noticed the dentist or hygienist calling out numbers before they started the cleaning. What these numbers are, are measurements of your gums, and it helps the dentist and hygienist to determine the health of the gums. The lower the number the better, and if you hear all threes or under, you are in great shape. When you start to hear fours, fives, and sixes, that means that the bacteria has gotten under the gums and started to create pockets between the teeth and gums, and a deep cleaning needs to be done.

Those are the biggest differences between a regular cleaning and a deep cleaning, and if you have any questions about where you stand, we would be happy to answer them at your next appointment.

What Is a Deep Cleaning? Why Do I Need One? And What Does It Have To Do With My Heart?

Some of the most common questions we get from our patients here at Legacy Dental Group revolve around “deep cleanings”. Many patients come to us as new patients from other offices stating, “the dentist said that I needed a ‘deep cleaning’ and tried to force me into a big treatment plan.” This is actually a very common occurrence here, and we would like to clear up some of the questions we get from those patients.

First off, what is a “deep cleaning”? Well to be totally honest, there are a few different levels of gum disease, so there are a few different levels of cleanings. The different types of cleanings are:

  • Prophylaxis
  • Full Mouth Debridement
  • Localized Scaling and Root Planing
  • Full Mouth Scaling and Root Planing

The first level of cleaning is called a prophylaxis. This is the cleaning that patients come in and get for their bi-annual checkups. This is what most patients consider to be a “regular cleaning”. This is a preventative cleaning and can only be done when the patient’s mouth is completely free of gingivitis and periodontal disease. The other three types of cleanings could all be conveyed as “deep cleanings” as they are not considered preventative in nature.

A Full Mouth Debridement is usually done when a patient has not been to a dentist in a few years and has plaque, tartar, and hard calculus buildup present on their teeth. When there is calcified buildup present on the surfaces of the teeth, the hygienist cannot get correct gum measurements to evaluate how healthy a patient’s gums are. That is the purpose of having the Full Mouth Debridement done, to remove that calcified plaque and tartar to be able to accurately assess the health of the gums around the teeth.

Localized Scaling and Root Planing is also considered a “deep cleaning” by many patients as it is a periodontal procedure. Localized Scaling and Root Planing is only done when there is periodontitis (periodontal disease) present in the mouth. What happens in this case is the plaque and tartar present have reached down below the gums, and have started to infect the gums around the teeth. When this starts to happen, the gums recede away from the teeth and in serious cases, the bacteria starts to erode away the bone of the jaw. Localized Scaling and Root Planing is done when the periodontitis is only present in a few areas of the mouth, hence the “localized” descriptor. The hygienist would start by getting the affected teeth numb first, and then they would focus on cleaning the bacteria out from underneath the gums. This is generally why it is known as a “deep cleaning” because it goes below the gum line.

Full Mouth Scaling and Root Planing is very similar to the cleaning mentioned above, it just isn’t focused on one or two teeth, it is required in the whole mouth. Scaling and Root Planing can be done on a patient that is just at the beginning stages of periodontitis or a more severe stage, but it is best to have the procedure done in the early stages, as severe periodontitis could require periodontal surgery that would need to be performed at a specialist’s office.

As far as the last question posed in the title of this blog, what do deep cleanings have to do with my heart? According to the American Academy of Periodontology, “Several studies have shown that periodontal disease is associated with heart disease. While a cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been proven, research has indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the association.”

So while everyone is thinking about hearts this Valentine’s Day, protect yours by giving us a call at 602-993-4200 to schedule your cleaning and checkup today!