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Deep Cleaning (Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing, or SRP)

Deep cleaning, also known as periodontal scaling and root planing (SRP), is an important non-surgical treatment for patients with early signs of periodontal disease. Some dentists have started calling it “gum therapy” or “subgingival therapy” because patients often conflate deep cleanings with regular teeth cleanings, though the two are completely different procedures.

Routine teeth cleaning helps you maintain good oral health, but can’t help with gum disease. Deep cleanings are specific dental procedures to treat early gum disease. At Soft Touch Dental, Dr. Fakhimi carefully assesses your oral health and only recommends a deep cleaning if it’s absolutely necessary, as shown through extensive dental exams and x-rays.

Benefits of Deep Cleaning

  • Stops periodontal disease from spreading further
  • Helps prevent underlying diseases, such as heart and respiratory ailments
  • Helps prevent tooth loss
  • Reduces bad breath
  • Cleans superficial stains from the teeth
  • Increases the aesthetic value of your smile

What is Deep Cleaning?

Deep cleaning is a procedure that involves scraping the accumulated plaque and tartar from the roots of your teeth and below the gum line with an ultrasonic scaler or a metallic scaling device. The plaque and tartar generally accumulate due to food, saliva, and bacteria, and they have to be removed mechanically, especially if they’ve spread to beneath the gum line.

When do You Need Deep Cleaning?

Deep cleaning is necessary when you’re at the initial stages of periodontal disease, i.e., a serious gum infection that affects the gingival tissue and the surrounding bone tissue. Periodontal disease is extremely common, affecting more than 50% of adults over the age of 30, and its prevalence increases with age. In fact, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

If you don’t treat gingivitis, the bacterial infection will continue spreading deeper into your bone tissues, affecting the ligaments supporting the tooth, causing bone loss. As the disease progresses, the plaque and tartar collect in the natural pockets of space between your gums and teeth, leading to extreme gum recession, bone loss, inflammation, and, ultimately, tooth loss.

It’s worth noting that periodontal disease often goes unnoticed until the final stages when it has caused severe bone loss. At the initial stages, most people don’t experience any pain or discomfort from periodontitis, even though it continues affecting their gum tissues. However, you must treat periodontitis at the earliest stage possible, before it severely affects your gum and bone tissues.

Deep vs. Regular Cleaning

Deep cleaning occasionally receives considerable pushback from patients who assume it’s not much different from regular teeth cleaning. The name “deep cleaning” perhaps does a disservice to the treatment, making it sound similar to regular teeth cleaning, though they’re completely different. Deep cleaning treats periodontitis, while regular cleaning is a preventative.

Regular teeth cleaning is a prophylaxis procedure that polishes your teeth, removes surface plaque, and minimizes bacterial colonization. It doesn’t remove the plaque and tartar in your gum line or gum pockets, and it can even worsen your periodontitis by releasing the bacteria into the bloodstream. As such, if you have periodontitis, no ethical dentist would provide a regular cleaning until you’re treated.

Deep cleaning, meanwhile, is a necessary procedure that removes the plaque and tartar from your gum line and deep gum pockets. It smoothes your roots and helps your gums attach firmly around your teeth, thereby strengthening your teeth. Early intervention with deep cleaning saves you from potential tooth loss or surgical procedures later.

The Deep Cleaning Procedure Overview

Dr. Fakhimi will carefully examine your teeth and take x-rays to check the condition of your teeth and the surrounding bone tissues. He’ll also check the depth of the gum pockets to determine how far your periodontitis has spread. If you have periodontal disease, he’ll deliver local anesthesia and start the scaling and root planing procedure.

  • Scaling: During the scaling procedure, the dentist removes the calculus and plaque from the teeth using a special scaling tool. The process removes the accumulated plaque and tartar from below the gum line and the roots.
  • Root Planing: During the root planing procedure, the roots of your teeth are smoothed to prevent bacterial colonization and promote healing. Over time, the gum tissues heal and tighten around your teeth.
  • Antibiotics: The procedure might include irrigation with antimicrobials, such as a mouth rinse or antibiotic treatment. The dentist may place antibiotics in the gum pockets to minimize bacterial growth and promote healing.

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