Deep Cleanings: What They Are and Why You Might Need One

by Dental Spa of Texas
June 10, 2023
Deep Cleanings: What They Are and Why You Might Need One

Are you experiencing persistent bad breath, inflamed gums, or loose teeth? These may be signs that you require a deep cleaning. I’m Dr. Linh Nguyen, and I specialize in dental procedures such as deep cleanings, dental implants, and teeth extractions. In this blog post, I’ll explain what deep cleanings are, why you might need one, and the benefits it can provide for your oral health. By understanding this crucial aspect of dental care, you can take charge of your dental health and prevent potential complications down the road.

What is a Deep Cleaning?

A deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is a procedure that goes beyond the basic dental cleaning to target plaque and tartar buildup below the gumline. When excessive amounts of plaque, tartar, and bacteria accumulate in the mouth, they can lead to gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. A deep cleaning is designed to remove these harmful substances and help restore the health of your gums and teeth.

The Difference Between Regular Cleanings and Deep Cleanings

Regular dental cleanings, or prophylaxis, focus on removing plaque and tartar buildup on the surface of the teeth and above the gumline. This type of cleaning is an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing gum disease from developing in the first place.

On the other hand, deep cleanings aim at addressing the more advanced stages of gum disease and require a more intensive and thorough approach. A deep cleaning targets plaque and tartar found below the gumline, in the pockets between the teeth and gums.

A periodontal probe is used to measure the depth of these pockets. Pockets deeper than 3 millimeters are generally considered unhealthy, and a dentist or dental hygienist typically recommends a deep cleaning if your pockets measure deeper than this.

Why Do You Need a Deep Cleaning?

There are various reasons why you might need a deep cleaning, most of which are related to preventing or treating gum disease. Below are some common reasons that might necessitate a deep cleaning.

Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is caused by poor oral hygiene practices and the buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth. Some of the factors that contribute to the development of gum disease include:

  • Inadequate brushing and flossing
  • Irregular dental checkups and cleanings
  • Smoking
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes
  • Hormonal changes (e.g., pregnancy)
  • Certain medications that cause dry mouth or affect gum health

Gum disease is progressive and becomes more severe without proper intervention. If left untreated, it can lead to receding gums, bone loss, and even tooth loss. A deep cleaning helps remove the plaque and tartar below the gumline to treat existing gum disease and prevent it from getting worse.

Signs that You Might Need a Deep Cleaning

It’s essential to pay attention to the warning signs of gum disease and seek professional help if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums or the formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Pain while chewing

Your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination and use tools like periodontal probes and dental X-rays to assess the health of your gums and teeth. If gum disease is detected and your dentist determines that a deep cleaning is necessary, they will create a customized treatment plan to address your specific needs and concerns.

The Deep Cleaning Process

The deep cleaning process primarily involves two steps: scaling and root planing. Both of these procedures are aimed at eliminating the buildup of plaque and tartar that cause gum disease. In addition, they help to smooth the surfaces of the teeth to prevent bacteria from attaching and accumulating.

Scaling and Root Planing


Scaling is the first step of the deep cleaning process. I use special dental tools like ultrasonic scalers and hand scalers to remove the hardened plaque and tartar deposits that have accumulated on the teeth surfaces, especially below the gum line. This will help to reduce inflammation and allow the gums to heal.

The ultrasonic scaler produces high-frequency vibrations that help break down and remove the calculus deposits effectively. On the other hand, hand scalers are used for more precise and targeted removal of plaque and tartar.

Root Planing

After the scaling process is completed, the next step is root planing. Root planing is performed using curettes, specialized dental instruments designed to smooth out the root surfaces of the teeth. This step is crucial in removing any remaining plaque and tartar, as well as eliminating any rough spots where bacteria can accumulate and thrive.

During the root planing procedure, I ensure that I access every aspect of the root surfaces under the gums effectively. This helps to promote healthier gum tissue by making it more difficult for bacteria to attach and colonize in the future.

Aftercare and Maintenance

Once the deep cleaning procedures are completed, it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices to prevent gum disease from recurring. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and using a mouth rinse regularly can help to keep your mouth clean and free from harmful bacteria.

Moreover, it’s important to schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings to help monitor the status of your teeth and gums, ensuring that any early signs of gum disease are caught and treated promptly. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, I may recommend more frequent visits, typically every three to four months, to help maintain your oral health.

It’s also essential to modify any lifestyle habits that contribute to gum disease, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or an unhealthy diet. By making healthier choices and maintaining proper oral hygiene, you can significantly reduce the chances of gum disease recurring in the future.

Benefits of Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning offers numerous advantages for maintaining your overall oral health, as well as addressing other health concerns. Here are some of the key benefits:

Improved Oral Health

The removal of plaque and tartar during the deep cleaning process results in healthier gums and teeth. By eliminating the harmful bacteria responsible for gum disease, your gums will start healing, and any inflammation or bleeding should significantly decrease. This promotes better oral health and contributes to preventing bad breath, tooth decay, and other dental issues that can arise from poor oral hygiene.

Preventing Tooth Loss

Left untreated, gum disease can lead to severe infection, bone loss, and tooth loss. As the infection progresses, teeth can become loose and eventually fallout. Deep cleaning can help to halt the advancement of gum disease, significantly reducing the chances of tooth loss. Moreover, for those with missing teeth, dental treatments such as dental implants can provide effective tooth replacement options to restore your smile and functionality.

Reducing the Risk of Other Health Issues

Numerous studies have shown that there is a connection between gum disease and various systemic health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. By treating gum disease through deep cleaning, you can help to reduce inflammation and bacterial infection, which may lower the risk of developing these health problems.

Moreover, women with gum disease are more likely to experience pregnancy complications, including preterm birth and low birth weight infants. By maintaining good oral health through deep cleanings and other dental treatments, you can significantly improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy outcome.

In conclusion, deep cleaning plays a vital role in maintaining your overall oral health by eliminating harmful bacteria, preventing tooth loss, and reducing the risks associated with other health issues. Regular dental checkups and cleanings, combined with proper oral hygiene practices, will help ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy for years to come.

Cost and Insurance Coverage for Deep Cleanings

Cost of Deep Cleanings

The cost of deep cleanings can vary depending on several factors, such as the severity of gum disease, geographic location, and the dental practice. On average, you can expect to pay between $150 and $350 per quadrant, or $600 to $1400 for a full mouth deep cleaning. It’s important to keep in mind that preventing gum disease through regular dental checkups and cleanings can save you money in the long run.

Insurance Coverage

Many dental insurance plans cover deep cleanings, also known as scaling and root planing, as they are considered a necessary treatment for gum disease. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be expected to pay a co-payment, co-insurance, or meet a deductible before your insurance will cover the cost of the deep cleaning. It’s best to check with your insurance provider to determine what kind of coverage you have for deep cleanings and any limitations that may apply. If you do not have dental insurance or your plan doesn’t cover deep cleanings, some dentists offer discounts or payment plans to help make treatment more affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I get a deep cleaning?

The frequency at which you should get a deep cleaning depends on the health of your gums and the advice of your dentist. If you have active gum disease, deep cleanings may initially be needed every 3 months to control the infection. After improvement, you may be able to maintain your gum health with regular cleanings every 6 months, although some individuals may still require more frequent deep cleanings.

Is deep cleaning painful?

Deep cleanings can cause some discomfort, but your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb your gums before the procedure. This will help alleviate pain and make the process more comfortable. After the treatment, you may experience some soreness and sensitivity, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort. For patients with severe anxiety or discomfort, dentists may offer sedation options to ensure a more comfortable experience.

Can gum disease return after a deep cleaning?

Yes, gum disease can return after a deep cleaning if proper oral hygiene practices are not maintained. It’s crucial to follow your dentist’s recommendations for at-home care and to attend regular dental checkups to monitor your gum health. By doing so, you can prevent gum disease from recurring and maintain a healthy smile.

What can I expect during the recovery period?

After a deep cleaning, it’s normal to experience some tenderness, swelling, and minor bleeding in the treated area. These symptoms should subside within a few days. To ensure a smooth recovery, it’s important to follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions, which may include using prescribed mouth rinses and avoiding certain foods. Brushing and flossing gently during the healing process is essential to prevent infection and maintain gum health.

Can deep cleanings damage my teeth?

While deep cleanings can cause some temporary tooth sensitivity, they are not known to damage teeth when performed by a qualified dental professional. Scaling and root planing remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from below the gumline, helping to prevent tooth loss caused by gum disease.


Understanding the importance of deep cleanings, their cost, and how to maintain gum health after the treatment is crucial to ensure optimal oral health. Consult with your dentist to determine if a deep cleaning is necessary for you and how to prevent gum disease from recurring.

At Dental Spa of Texas, our team is dedicated to providing the best dental care for our patients in Frisco, Carrollton, Plano, Little Elm, Allen, Addison, Hebron, Lewisville, Farmers Branch, Prosper, The Colony, Dallas, and Garland. We offer a wide range of services, including dental crowns, to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.

So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to us today and let us help you find the best solution for your dental needs. Don’t let damaged teeth hold you back any longer – take the first step toward a healthier, more confident smile by contacting us at Dental Spa of Texas.

About Dr. Linh Nguyen and Dental Spa of Texas

Dr. Linh Nguyen is a highly trained dentist who earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington School of Dentistry. His practice, Dental Spa of Texas, offers various services, including dental implants, fillings, teeth extraction, root canals, crowns, cleanings, and more. Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing exceptional dental care to patients in Frisco, Carrollton, Plano, Little Elm, Allen, Addison, Hebron, Lewisville, Farmers Branch, Prosper, The Colony, Dallas, Garland, and DFW areas.