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Deep Cleaning for Gum Disease: An Essential Guide

teethAside from tooth decay, gum disease is one of the major threats to a person’s overall dental health. Periodontal disease occurs more often than we would want think. Statistics show that 47.2% of adults who are 30 years and older have some form of gum disease.

One of the treatments that halt the progression of gum disease is deep cleaning. If this procedure is recommended to you, here’s a guide that will help you understand its purpose, how it’s done, and what you can expect before and after the treatment.

 

What is Deep Cleaning?

Deep cleaning is a procedure done to alleviate the swelling, inflammation, and bleeding due to plaque and tartar build-up along the gum lines and the roots of the teeth. Aside from easing the disorder, deep cleaning also helps prevent gum disease from becoming more severe.

Deep cleaning is a non-invasive and non-surgical procedure. It typically involves deep scaling and root planing. Deep scaling is the process of scraping the plaque below and above the gum lines. Meanwhile, root planing removes tartar and other bacteria that are on the pockets in the gum.

It is important to note that deep cleaning is not the same as prophylaxis or regular teeth cleaning. Deep cleaning, as its name suggests, is a more thorough way of cleaning the teeth in order to get rid of bacteria and tartar that leads to gum problems.

 

When is Deep Cleaning Needed?

Deep cleaning is typically recommended for individuals that have gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, or to address periodontal disease, which is a more serious gum infection where inflammation or infection of the gums and surrounding oral tissues occurs.

Typically, dentists advise deep cleaning when the depth of the space between your gums and teeth exceeds the normal level, which is 3mm. It is measured using a periodontal probe. Your dentist will also assess the plaque buildup on your gum lines and root area.

Gum disease results from bacterial plaque. When it builds up, it hardens and turns into a rough and porous substance called tartar. Tartar releases toxins that affect the gum fibers that are responsible for holding the teeth. As a result, periodontal pockets are formed and bacteria and toxins build up in them, which causes inflammation and infection. If it continues to go untreated, the situation can become more severe and may result to tooth loss.

 

How Do I Prepare before the Procedure?

Before anything else, you need to have a complete grasp of why the procedure needs to be performed on you. Discuss with your dentist the goal of the treatment and why it is the best course of action for your situation.

Prior to treatment, you need to practice proper oral hygiene, which involves regular brushing and flossing of your teeth. Depending on your condition, your dentist may prescribe using a specific type of mouthwash or medication to prevent bacteria from spreading to other parts of the body.

 

Is Deep Cleaning Painful?

Generally, deep cleaning is not expected to cause much discomfort because it is a noninvasive procedure. However, the level of pain you will feel while it is being done will all depend on your tolerance and the severity of your plaque build-up.

If the pockets are not too deep, you will feel little to no discomfort at all. However, you may feel the vibration, movement, or pressure as the scaling instruments probe around your teeth and remove plaque. On the other hand, if you have deeper pockets and more build-up, you may experience more discomfort, pain, and bleeding.

To alleviate discomfort and pain, dentists may apply a topical numbing solution on the area where the procedure will be performed or anesthesia may be administered intravenously.

Before the procedure, you can discuss pain management options with your dentist, so that it can be integrated on your treatment plan.

 

How is Deep Cleaning Done?

Deep cleaning is typically done with a combination of ultrasonic instruments and hand instruments.

Ultrasonic instruments are powered by electricity or air and it has a high-frequency vibrating motion that removes the plaque off. It also releases water that helps remove debris around the teeth and pockets. Meanwhile hand instruments are typically used in order to remove any residual deposits on the tooth.

Depending on the severity of your condition, deep cleaning may be performed in quadrants. If you only have gingivitis or a mild case of gum disease, the procedure may be done in one appointment. Meanwhile, if one quadrant has more build-up than the others, treatment may be scheduled on two or more meetings.

Certain medications may be prescribed alongside the procedure. These include antimicrobial mouth rinse, antibiotic gels and microspheres, antiseptic chips, enzyme suppressants, and oral drugs. However, there’s no proof that these medications can replace surgical treatment for more advanced cases of gum disease.

 

What Should I Expect after the Procedure?

After the procedure, you may experience discomfort, an increased sensitivity to temperature, and even bleeding. However, it’s important to note that they will gradually subside and are not expected to last long. If needed, painkillers may be prescribed to manage pain and discomfort.

More so, you may be advised to brush your teeth more gently following the procedure because gums are still tender at this point. Rinsing with saltwater or specific types of mouthwash may also be prescribed.

A follow-up appointment will also be scheduled. During this meeting, the dentist will check if the pockets have decreased in size. If there are pockets that are still 3mm deep or more, further treatment may be needed.

 

What are the Risks that Come with Deep Cleaning?

Although deep cleaning is a noninvasive procedure, it can still pose dangers to your health because it can introduce bacteria into the blood stream. To prevent this from happening, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before and after the treatment.

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to patients that have heart problems, weak immune systems, artificial body parts, and who recently underwent a major surgery.

Before you agree to undergo deep cleaning, make sure that you and your dentist have assessed you risk for complications.

 

Proper Gum Maintenance

Proper gum maintenance is about keeping your oral health in check at all times—which requires practical steps that you can easily accomplish such as:

  • Daily tooth brushing and flossing
  • Avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking
  • Going to regular dental check-ups

 

Gum disease can pave the way for severe oral conditions. If deep scaling is recommended to you, there’s no need to be anxious because this procedure is done in order to prevent gum problems from progressing any further. Whether you’re about to undergo the treatment or recovering from it, you can use this guide to stay on track as you continue to take care of your teeth and gums.