What Is Deep Cleaning?

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What Is Deep Cleaning?

If you have ever been to the dentist for your regular checkup and they recommended a deep cleaning, you may have felt like it was simply a way to charge you more money and get you back into their office. However, there are generally some specific reasons why your dentist would suggest a deep cleaning, and why they are important to have completed when recommended. In order to demystify the process, we’ve compiled information about what a deep cleaning is, and when you should get one. Of course, if you have more questions, you can talk to your dentist to understand how a deep cleaning can specifically benefit you.

What It’s Not

Many people feel that their own daily routine of brushing and flossing is considered a cleaning and that every time that they go to the dentist that they are receiving a deep cleaning. However, that’s not quite how your dental professionals see it. When you check in for your regularly scheduled appointments, you receive a cleaning from your dental hygienist. This cleaning is not a deep cleaning. Your hygienist will spend some time to remove plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth that normally occurs between your appointments. They may also polish your teeth and apply a fluoride treatment. All of these are normal steps of a routine cleaning, but it doesn’t go as far as a deep cleaning.

However, when the buildup on your teeth sits on the gumline, it can begin to cause gum disease and prevents the gums from attaching to the teeth. This is also called the gum recession. Your dental hygienist will measure the depths of the pockets between your gums and teeth every time that you get a cleaning. These are typically the numbers that they call out for recording. 3mm is considered normal, 4mm is borderline, and 5mm or greater is into the realm of concern.

While you may not feel any problems with your gums, these measurements can help your dentist identify what type of risk your teeth are really at. The area of the tooth below the gum line doesn’t have the same buildup of enamel as the rest of the tooth. This means that it is more susceptible to cavities and infection. Deep cleanings help to clean the teeth and allow the gums to reattach to the tooth and protect the root of the tooth from harmful bacteria.

What A Deep Cleaning Does

During a deep cleaning, your hygienist uses special tools to remove the plaque and tartar (or calculus) buildup on the teeth. These tools remove all that buildup and leave a clean surface that the gums can then attach to. Depending on your need, you may be scheduled for multiple appointments in order to clean all your teeth. If this is the case, your hygienist will often break up the areas of your mouth that they treat. This allows you to chew on the opposite side and allow your mouth to adequately heal. You will then go in for your next appointments, and they can treat the remaining areas.

Additionally, many patients are surprised to learn that they need a deep cleaning, and even more surprised when their dentist won’t perform their routine cleaning. However, this is because the issue is serious enough that you need to get a full cleaning to adequately restore your oral health. Anything less may end up causing more harm and increases the potential for infection.


Deep cleanings are frequently recommended for patients who haven’t been receiving their routine dental care. This means that it is important to visit your dentist every six months to maintain a regimen of great dental hygiene.