What’s the Difference Between a Dental Cleaning and a Deep Cleaning?

woman getting a dental cleaning

Many people dread the words “dental cleaning.” A lot of us seize up in fear at just the idea of going to the dentist. However, there’s no real reason for that. Attending your regular six-month appointments is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth is necessary to keep your body in good shape. So, what exactly is a dental cleaning? Is it the same thing as a deep cleaning? Let’s take a closer look at what differentiates the two of them.

What’s a Dental Cleaning?

A dental cleaning is what happens twice a year at your dentist’s office, or at least, it should if you keep your biannual appointments! Its main purpose is to give you a cleaning more thorough than what you can achieve with your toothbrush and floss at home by removing plaque and tartar.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria and particles from the foods and drinks you consume. It constantly forms on your teeth, but brushing and flossing can disrupt it, so it doesn’t harden into tartar. Once plaque has become tartar, it can’t be removed by anyone other than a dental professional. It’s important to get your tartar removed at least twice a year, since bacteria in tartar can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease is a serious bacterial infection in the gum tissue that can, if left untreated, make your teeth loose and even fall out! If you have it, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning for treatment.

What’s a Deep Cleaning?

A deep cleaning is a common treatment for gum disease that involves three major steps:

  • Scaling. First, your dentist will remove built-up plaque and tartar from beneath your gumline. Even during a regular dental cleaning, these areas are usually not reached.
  • Root planing. Next, your dentist will use special instruments or a laser to painlessly yet thoroughly smooth out any rough spots along the tooth roots where bacteria like to collect.
  • Follow-up care. Finally, you will be prescribed an antibiotic to deal with any reaming infection and a painkiller to alleviate any discomfort. Your dentist may recommend one or more follow-up appointments to see how your healing and oral health in general are doing.

A dental cleaning happens twice a year at your regular checkups, while a deep cleaning is a treatment option for serious gum disease. Now that you know what they are, there is no reason to be afraid of them!

About the Author

Dr. Vince Fava achieved his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Toronto in 1995. He now practices at Torbram Dental in Brampton, ON. He uses a soft tissue laser to painlessly perform deep cleanings to treat gum disease. If you think you may have gum disease, or it’s just time for your twice-a-year dental cleaning, contact Dr. Fava by clicking here or calling 905-792-7163.

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