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What You Should Know About Deep Teeth Cleanings

There are two types of dental cleaning that take place at the dentist’s office. There is the routine dental cleaning and there is a deep dental cleaning, otherwise known as scaling and root planing (SRP). A traditional dental cleaning involves removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth.

A deep cleaning goes further and removes the plaque and tartar from further below the gum line. A deep cleaning also involves cleaning the root of a patient’s teeth, a portion of the procedure known as root planning. Deep cleaning is a much more intensive and invasive procedure compared to a traditional cleaning, but it is also the most effective way of treating gum disease.


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How We Can Help You

The staff at Burke Dental prides itself on offering high-quality dental care in Burke, Virginia. One part of that is looking out for our patient’s overall health. Dr. Ghanavati and his staff know that sometimes a regular cleaning just isn’t enough. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a serious problem that could lead to permanent damage including bone loss and tooth loss.  If a patient is showing signs of gum disease, it needs to be treated right away and that means a deep cleaning.

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The Differences Between A Traditional Cleaning and A Deep Cleaning

While Burke Dental offers two types of cleaning, they are very different. A traditional dental cleaning is something that we recommend that patients get at least twice a year, just to help maintain good oral health and remove any plaque and tartar that builds up despite regular home dental care. A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is only recommended when there are signs of gum disease. The main differences between the two types of cleaning include:

  • Surface Cleaning vs. Under the Surface Cleaning. A traditional dental cleaning cleans the area about the gum line, removing any built-up plaque and tartar. A deep cleaning focuses on the area under the gum line. A deep cleaning also cleans the surface of the tooth’s root.
  • Local Anesthesia. A traditional dental cleaning is a very simple procedure that does not normally require anesthesia, while a deep cleaning involves numbing the treated area of the patient’s mouth with a local anesthetic so that the dentist can access the area underneath the gum line without causing the patient pain.
  • Preventative vs. Reactive Treatment. Traditional dental cleanings are preventative dentistry. They are meant to keep a patient’s teeth healthy and prevent the need for more invasive procedures. Deep cleaning is a solution to a problem that already exists.
  • Frequency. A patient should have multiple teeth cleanings in a year, but deep cleanings are much rarer. A deep cleaning will only be recommended if a patient’s gums show signs of gum disease.

Generally, dental cleaning refers to the traditional type, but sometimes that isn’t enough and that is when the dentist will recommend a deep cleaning. A deep cleaning is recommended in response to a serious problem and if the dentist is recommending it, there’s a reason for it.

Reasons For A Deep Clean

The main reason a deep clean will be recommended is that the patient is showing signs of gum disease. Gum disease is very serious and if it goes untreated it can lead to tooth loss and bone deterioration, as well as a risk of infection. Which is why a deep clean is recommended, to try and stop the spread of the gum disease and prevent the bacteria from spreading. There are several reasons a patient’s teeth may have gotten to the point of needing a deep clean, such as:

  • Improper oral care. A good home dental routine is critical to having healthy teeth. Patients who do not regularly floss or brush their teeth are at a higher risk of contracting gum disease.
  • Irregular dental cleanings. There is a reason dental professionals recommend that our patients get a professional cleaning at least every six months, with some patients having to benefit from more frequent cleanings. That’s because a professional cleaning can remove build-up that can’t be reached at home. Skipping a regular cleaning can lead to plaque build-up, which can lead to gum disease.
  • Missing or broken teeth. If a patient lets a missing or broken tooth go untreated for too long, it can have a negative effect on the jaw and gums. The missing or broken tooth may create an exposed area for bacteria to get into the gums.

It is very important to take good care of your teeth. This means brushing and flossing at home, scheduling regular check-ups and dental cleanings, and getting missing or broken teeth treated immediately. Routine professional cleanings that take place two to four times a year are only part of your overall oral health.  Each patient must take responsibility for keeping gums and teeth clean on a daily basis. Not doing so increases the risk of gum disease and the need for a deep dental clean.


Scheduling a Deep Cleaning

In many cases, patients will come in for their regular, scheduled dental cleaning, and be told they need a deep cleaning instead. Generally, the dentist or hygienist will make this decision after doing an examination. In this case, instead of going forward with the scheduled cleaning, the team at Burke Dental will instead schedule another appointment so that they can allocate the extra time required to do a deep cleaning.

Why not go ahead with the traditional cleaning anyway and then do the deep clean? Because the surface cleaning can agitate the gums and can inadvertently expose the infected area to bacteria. To minimize those risks, it is recommended to skip the traditional cleaning and schedule the deep cleaning.


Who Needs a Deep Cleaning

If a patient has healthy gums, it is unlikely that the dentist will recommend a deep cleaning. A deep dental cleaning is only for patients who are showing signs of gum disease. This is not a routine procedure offered to every patient, it is a method of treating something that can lead to serious dental problems.


The Procedure

If it has been determined that a patient needs a deep dental cleaning, then they will make an appointment and come into the office. A local anesthetic will be administered and once it has taken effect, the procedure will begin. A deep cleaning is made up of two parts: scaling and root planing.

Scaling is similar to a traditional dental cleaning because it refers to removing plaque and tartar build-up from the teeth. However, in a deep cleaning, this is done in the area further under the gum line. Dr. Ghanavati and his team will use special instruments to get underneath the gums and remove the plaque build-up. The next step is root planing which is the process of cleaning the root of the tooth using special instruments.

Depending on the extent of the damage, it may take more than one visit to our office to complete a thorough deep cleaning. Our team will let the patient know if a second appointment is necessary. We may also recommend a follow-up appointment in 3 to 6 months to make sure the damage has not spread.



A deep cleaning can leave the gum area a little tender. The patient may be advised not to floss their teeth for a few days to avoid bruising the gums. A salt-water rinse may also be suggested. The soreness may last a few days before the patient returns to normal feeling and function at which time the patient may resume daily flossing.


We can Help! Contact Burke Dental Today!

The only way to know if you need a deep dental cleaning is to make an appointment for a regular check-up. The qualified staff of dental professionals at Burke Dental will then assess your teeth and recommend necessary treatment. Appointments can be requested online or by calling our office at 703-978-6000.


We are located at 9006 Fern Park Drive Ste A, Burke, VA 22015

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