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Deep cleaning for the treatment of gum disease

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You need deep cleaning when your gum disease is stubborn. Deep cleaning, also known as root planning and scaling,  is a dental procedure that is done when gums begin to pull away from the teeth or when tartar (hard mineral deposits) deposits on roots of the teeth.

Why is deep cleaning suggested for gum disease?

Tartar and plaque when becomes hard can pull away the teeth from the root. This can further lead to gum diseases. Thus, deep cleaning is advised to ensure proper dental hygiene.

Root planning eliminates rough spots from the root surfaces where germs attack, thereby making them smooth while scaling removes dental tartar formed on the surface and in between teeth.

How is deep cleaning performed?

Deep cleaning is combination of scaling and root planning.

The dentist will use a periodontal probe to measure the severity of the gum disease and the depth of the pockets. Patients are usually given local anesthesia to numb the gums while planning. Dental instruments like curettes or ultrasonic cleaners are used to remove the plaque and tartar (calculus) from the root surface. A mist of water will be spread during the process to keep the instrument cool.

If necessary, your dentist may pack an antibiotic in the gum pockets or administer it orally along with deep cleaning.

How to prepare for it?

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There’re no pre preparations for deep cleaning, it can be scheduled on the same day you pay a visit to dentist. Depending on the intensity of damage and irregularity on the root surface, you may or may not be given anaesthesia.

Your doctor might fix different appointments for cleaning the four quadrants or half the mouth in a day, the other half in next appointment.

Discuss these aspects with your doctor.

How does deep cleaning feel like?

You will not feel a hint of pain when your gums are numbed. Even without numbing, there’s no or negligible pain associated with it. You will only sense scrapping on the teeth as the instrument moves. Your dentist may ask you to spit during the process.

What to expect after?

The lips and gums may remain numb for a few hours if anaesthesia has been used. Mild bleeding can happen after deep cleaning. Since the deposits are removed, more teeth may get exposed. However, that is transient and normal.

It’s normal to experience soreness and tenderness in the gums for 2-3 days.

You doctor will let you know the next appointments for follow up visits.

After care for deep cleaning of gum disease

Your doctor will explain you the post operative care plan. In general you need to remember the following things:

  • You will experience sensitivity in tooth. So avoid extreme cold and hot foods, spicy and citrus varieties
  • Use the toothpaste and mouthwash as suggested by your doctor
  • If you notice bleeding, then you can compress the gums with a moist tea bag for sometime
  • Washing the mouth with salt water is also recommended
  • Be a little extra careful while brushing your teeth. Do it gently. Avoid flossing for 2-3 days.

If you notice any kind of abnormality or difficulty after deep cleaning then make sure you let your dentist know. Gum diseases get considerably controlled after deep cleaning.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015