What is a Deep Cleaning, and When Do You Need One?

You could be practicing proper oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily and going for regular cleanings. However, standard cleaning may not work in some cases. So, you may have to undergo a deep cleaning. Typically, deep cleaning is more extensive than regular cleaning.

While regular cleaning focuses only on the  tooth surfaces, deep cleaning aims to remove plaque and tartar build-up both above and below the gum line. If you want to undergo a deep cleaning, seek the help of a qualified dentist.

In this article, you will learn what deep cleaning is, why you may need it, and how it enhances your oral health. 

What is Deep Cleaning?

Deep cleaning is a comprehensive dental procedure that addresses advanced stages of gum disease and maintains optimal oral health. It is also known as scaling and root planing.

 Unlike regular cleaning, deep cleaning helps remove tartar and plaque from the tooth surfaces and beneath the gum line. This process eliminates bacteria, prevents disease progression, and promotes the healing of irritated gum tissues. In most cases, deep cleaning is recommended when there are signs of gum disease.

Why is Deep Cleaning Important?

Deep cleaning is essential for several reasons. Deep cleaning helps prevent gum disease from progressing to more severe stages, safeguarding oral health. Additionally, deep cleaning removes plaque and tartar that regular brushing may not effectively eliminate, reducing the risk of infection.

Moreover, by targeting plaque and tartar below the gum line, deep cleaning promotes the healing of irritated gum tissues, creating a healthier environment for the teeth and preventing potential tooth loss associated with untreated gum disease. Deep cleaning complements at-home oral care efforts, enhancing oral hygiene and reducing the risk of systemic health issues linked to advanced gum disease.

Addressing gum disease early through deep cleaning can lead to long-term cost savings by averting the need for advanced dental treatments or tooth replacements.

Regular Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning

Regular cleaning is typically performed every six months during routine dental check-ups. During regular cleaning, the dentist, using professional tools, removes plaque and tartar from the tooth surface.

In regular cleaning, the focus is on the visible surfaces of the teeth and gums. Regular cleaning promotes general oral hygiene. It provides a clean, polished feel. During regular cleaning, discomfort is minimal since the focus is only on the visible surfaces of the teeth and gums.

On the other hand, deep cleaning is recommended when there are signs of gum disease or as a preventive measure for individuals at risk of gum disease. Deep cleaning is a more extensive process that reaches below the gum line to remove accumulated plaque and tartar.

Deep cleaning targets explicitly areas where regular cleaning may not effectively reach. During deep cleaning, the patient may experience some discomfort. Therefore, local anesthesia may be used.

Signs You May Need a Deep Cleaning

You may be wondering how to know when you need a deep cleaning. You may look out for the following signs:

  • Common signs of gum disease include persistent redness, swelling, or tenderness of the gums.
  • The development of hard, yellowish deposits (tartar) on your teeth, especially near the gum line.
  • Persistent bad breath despite consistent oral hygiene practices.
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing.
  • Swelling of the gums, accompanied by discomfort.
  • If your gums are visibly pulling away from your teeth and exposing the tooth roots.
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures and other signs of gum disease.

Ensure you consult your dentist promptly if you experience any of these signs. A dentist can help you determine whether deep cleaning is necessary.

Additionally, you should go for regular dental check-ups. This way, your dentist can identify these signs early on and recommend appropriate interventions.

The Deep Cleaning Process

The deep cleaning process involves several key steps, which include the following:

Assessment And Diagnosis

Your dentist will comprehensively examine the extent of your gum disease. They may visually inspect your teeth and gum pockets or use dental X-rays to evaluate your oral health.

Administration Of Local Anesthesia

You may experience some discomfort during deep cleaning. So, your dentist may administer local anesthesia to numb the affected areas to ensure you are comfortable.


At this stage, dentists use specialized tools to remove tartar and plaque deposits from the tooth surfaces and below the gum tissues. This way, bacteria are eliminated from the teeth.

Root Planing

Your dentist will smoothen the roots to prevent further plaque and tartar accumulation. This helps create a clean surface that promotes the reattachment of the gums to the roots, reducing the likelihood of future infections.

Antimicrobial Treatment

Sometimes, your dentist may apply antimicrobial treatment to the cleaned areas. This helps control bacterial growth and promote healing. Antimicrobial treatment can further reduce the risk of infection and support the restoration of gum health.

Follow-Up Appointments

After the initial deep cleaning, your dentist may schedule follow-up appointments. The primary purpose of these appointments is to monitor your progress, assess the effectiveness of the treatment, and address any lingering issues.

Aftercare and Maintenance

The deep cleaning process can be completed in one visit or spread across multiple appointments. Even after the deep cleaning, ensure you go for dental check-ups regularly. This way, you will maintain optimal oral health and prevent the recurrence of gum disease.

Additionally, ensure you practice good oral hygiene. Regular flossing and brushing are essential to support the healing process and maintain the results of the deep cleaning procedure.

Adhere to any specific post-procedure instructions provided by your dentist. This may include guidelines on managing discomfort, dietary restrictions, and the use of prescribed medications.

Sometimes, your dentist recommends or prescribes an antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent bacterial development. In that case, ensure you incorporate it into your oral hygiene routine.

Stay vigilant for any symptoms of gum disease, including redness, swelling, and bleeding gums. Ensure you promptly report any concerns you may have to your dentist.

Moreover, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for your overall oral health. Be mindful of what you eat. If you smoke, consider quitting, as smoking can delay the healing process and increase the risk of gum disease. Furthermore, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Water not only aids in flushing out bacteria but also in maintaining saliva production, contributing to improved oral health.

Common Misconceptions About Deep Cleaning

There are various misconceptions about deep cleaning. These misconceptions can make you feel uncertain and apprehensive about the procedure.

Below are some common misconceptions:

1.      Deep Cleaning is Painful

Most people believe that deep cleaning is a painful procedure. This is not true. This misconception may stem from various factors, such as fear of dental procedures, false accounts about the procedure, and misunderstandings about the techniques and procedures used in deep cleaning.

Your dentist will strive to make you comfortable. Your dentist will also administer local anesthesia before the procedure to prevent discomfort.

2.      Regular Cleanings are Sufficient

Some people believe regular cleanings are adequate for maintaining gum health and preventing gum disease. This is not true.

Although regular cleanings are essential, they primarily focus on the tooth surfaces. Deep cleaning targets hidden areas, such as below the gum line, where bacterial infection can develop and result in gum disease.

Additionally, some individuals may have specific risk factors or conditions that make them susceptible to gum disease or excessive tartar buildup, such as smoking, diabetes, or genetic predisposition. Regular cleanings may not be sufficient for these individuals to maintain optimal oral health, and deep cleaning may be necessary to address underlying issues and prevent further complications.

3.      Deep Cleaning Causes Tooth Sensitivity

This misconception is rooted in concerns about potential discomfort or sensitivity following the procedure. Although some individuals may experience tooth sensitivity after the procedure, this is usually temporary.

However, if you experience any sensitivity after the deep cleaning, ensure you inform your dentist. Your dentist can advise you on how to manage the sensitivity.

4.      Deep Cleaning Can Loosen Your Teeth and Result in Tooth Loss

Some people believe deep cleaning can loosen teeth and cause tooth loss. This is not true.

In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, deep cleaning aims to stabilize your teeth and gums and prevent tooth loss associated with untreated gum disease. When left untreated, gum disease can lead to inflammation, infection, and breakdown of the tissues and bones supporting the teeth, potentially resulting in tooth loss.

However, in some cases, you may experience mild mobility or looseness of the teeth after a deep cleaning. This is especially true if the gum disease has already advanced and caused significant damage to the supporting tissues. This looseness is usually temporary and will eventually subside after the gums have healed.

5.      Deep Cleaning is Expensive

Cost concerns can deter individuals from pursuing deep cleaning. In comparison to regular cleanings, deep cleaning is more costly. However, as a preventive measure, deep cleaning can help avoid more extensive and costly dental treatments in the future.

Many dental insurance plans cover deep cleaning. If you have dental insurance, all or part of the cost of the procedure may be covered, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses.

Investing in deep cleaning is an investment in your oral health. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bone loss, and systemic health issues, resulting in higher healthcare costs and reduced quality of life in the long run. Deep cleaning helps preserve the health and stability of the teeth and supporting structures. Deep cleaning can save you from the expenses and complications of advanced dental treatments.

Advanced Techniques in Deep Cleaning

Thanks to technology, certain advanced techniques in deep cleaning offer more precise and effective treatments for gum disease. Some examples of these advanced techniques include the following:

  • Ultrasonic scaling
  • Laser therapy

Here is a brief discussion of each of these techniques:

Ultrasonic Scaling

Dentists utilize hand-held devices that emit high-frequency vibrations, commonly known as ultrasonic scalers, to eliminate plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. One of the most notable advantages of ultrasonic scaling lies in its efficiency.

Ultrasonic scalers excel in removing plaque and tartar buildup from the most challenging areas beneath the gum line. Their high-frequency vibrations break down and dislodge deposits, rendering them more accessible for removal compared to manual scaling techniques.

Precision is also another hallmark of ultrasonic scaling. Thanks to the scalers, dentists can precisely control and target plaque and tartar deposits. This minimizes potential damage to surrounding healthy tissues.

Many patients find ultrasonic scaling to be more comfortable than manual scaling methods. The gentle vibrations of the scaler help desensitize the treatment area, reducing discomfort and sensitivity during the procedure. Moreover, the water spray emitted by the scaler aids in cooling the treatment area and flushing away debris, further enhancing patient comfort.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a minimally invasive procedure. Here, dentists utilize dental lasers to target and remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup from below the gum line and along the roots of the teeth.

The key advantages of laser therapy are precision and accuracy. Dental lasers can be adjusted to specific wavelengths and power settings, allowing dentists to precisely control the depth of tissue penetration and the intensity of the treatment. This results in exceptional precision and accuracy in removing plaque and tartar buildup.

The focused energy of the laser allows for precise plaque and tartar removal without incisions, resulting in minimal discomfort.

Find a Beverly Hills Dentist Near Me

Deep cleaning is vital for preserving gum health, preventing gum disease progression, and maintaining oral well-being. By addressing plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line, deep cleaning helps mitigate the risk of serious oral health issues such as tooth loss and systemic health complications.

If you have noticed signs of gum disease or are due for a deep cleaning, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us at Dr Joseph Goodman. Your smile deserves the best care, and investing in deep cleaning can pave the way for better oral health. Call us at 310-860-9311 to schedule an appointment with our team of dentists in Beverly Hills.



Dr. Joseph M. Goodman, DDS Beverly Hills Center for Cosmetic Dentistry Advanced Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry. 2nd Floor at 241 1/2 S. Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90212