What are deep cleanings and periodontal root scaling?

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Deep cleanings or periodontal root scaling and planing explained

Has your dentist recommended a deep cleaning or root scaling and planing for your teeth? This is becoming a more common procedure, especially for maturing adults. We’ll take a more in depth look at this dental treatment, and explain why it can have very beneficial effects.

Why are basic cleanings not adequate to clean my teeth?

First of all, you may ask why regular cleanings are not able to keep your teeth clean? It’s common knowledge that most dentists recommend getting your teeth professionally cleaned at least every 6 months. This is the schedule that most dental plans allow for preventive exams and basic cleanings.

However for some patients, these basic cleanings may not be adequate to keep teeth properly maintained. Or if someone has delayed a dental visit for a longer period of time, their teeth may also need more than a regular exam and cleaning.

Basic dental cleanings help remove plaque and tartar build up around the teeth and gum line. It’s perfectly normal for a small amount of tartar to build up, even if you brush your teeth daily. However, sometimes the buildup can be excessive and go below the gum line, and this is where additional treatments are needed.

Deep cleanings help protect your teeth and prevent periodontal disease

When the build up of plaque and tartar has gone below the gum line, then a deep cleaning, which is also known as root scaling and planing, may be needed. In a root scaling procedure, a periodontist actually goes both above and under the gum line to remove dental debris and plaque that can cause more severe damage and tooth decay.

While the effects of gum inflammation or gingivitis can be reversed with proactive oral care, once tooth decay and bone loss begins, it’s affects can be more permanent. This is why it’s very important to treat the signs of periodontal disease early on.

The periodontal root scaling and planing process

When having a deep cleaning, it’s good to know about a few parts of the treatment process. Due to the sensitivity of the gums, dental providers will often numb the area of the mouth being cleaned. It’s also common for periodontists to only work on a few quadrants of the mouth at one time, due to the time and anesthesia required. So it may take several visits to completely perform a full deep cleaning of the mouth.

The first step of the treatment is the scaling process where the plaque and debris is removed from the teeth and gums. Most periodontists will use a pick or other ultrasonic device to remove the plaque buildup around the mouth. In certain places, they may need to work under the gum line to get rid of the excessive tartar build up.

After this, the planing process takes place, where the dentist helps to smooth out the roots so that the gums will properly reattach to the teeth. It’s important for a good seal with the gum line to prevent further tarter build up in the gums.

Will I need both regular cleanings and deep cleanings?

Once a patient has had a deep cleaning or root scaling treatment, it can help to put them on the right track. However, regular dental exams and cleanings at least every 6 months are still a necessity for basic oral care. Under the supervision of your general dentist, they can determine if your daily regimen for oral hygiene is adequately preventing the build up of harmful particles. Even with consistent habits of daily oral hygiene it may be necessary to periodically have deep cleanings to maintain a healthy mouth, as every patients’ anatomy can be different.

Does dental insurance cover deep cleanings?

Fortunately, most dental insurance plans include benefits for root scaling procedures or deep cleanings. You may want to check with your specific plan benefits, as the category of coverage can vary for each policy. Some plans may list this treatment as a major procedure, which means the patient will have more out of pocket expense for this treatment even with insurance coverage.

Be sure to maintain your teeth with consistent dental care

As always, it’s so important to take care of your teeth with proper oral care. Frequent visits to the dentist, as well as consistent daily habits can go a long way to preventing oral issues. Be sure to ask your dentist any questions you have regarding deep cleanings and how they might benefit your specific needs. It may just be the treatment you need to keep a long lasting smile.


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