You may wonder what the difference is between a regular cleaning and a deep cleaning. It’s all about the gums. In short, a regular cleaning addresses tartar and plaque above your gumline and a deep cleaning takes care of the tartar and plaque below your gumline. Here’s everything you need to know about both:
What to Expect During a Regular Cleaning
Three things typically happen at your regular six-month checkup: a cleaning, an exam, and sometimes X-ray. First, your dental hygienist will complete your cleaning, gently removing plaque and tartar. A high-powered electric brush will be used to brush all your teeth with a gritty toothpaste, removing any additional buildup. The last step will be to floss your teeth to remove anything left over after the cleaning. You will get a full rinse and the option to have fluoride treatment, which is painted onto your teeth if you choose. After that, your dentist will complete a comprehensive physical exam of your mouth, including screening for oral cancer. At some point in your visit, the dental team will determine whether you need updated X-rays and, if so, painlessly take that imaging to give us insight into your ongoing care.
What to Do between Regular Cleanings
The American Dental Association (ADA) urges, “Home oral care is an important contributor to oral health and can help lessen the need for extensive dental intervention in the future.” The ADA’s Home Oral Care Recommendations suggest that at a minimum you brush two times daily with a fluoride toothpaste, clean between teeth once daily with floss or a pick, limit sugar in your diet and regularly visit the dentist. At the end of your cleaning, our team will get you scheduled for your next appointment, usually six months later.
What to Expect During a Deep Cleaning
To prevent gum disease, resolve bad breath and prevent tooth loss, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning. You will come in for two or more visits, each lasting an hour or two. Each time, we will administer a local anesthetic by injection, taking care to minimize any pain at the injection site. Once you are fully numb, we will use a special tool to remove buildup below your gums and, in some cases, at the root. Once the deep cleaning is done, you will get a full rinse. While deep cleaning should not be painful, it can be uncomfortable, and our team will take measures to minimize any discomfort.
What to Do after a Deep Cleaning
For a few days after your deep cleaning, it’s a good idea to stick to soft foods and avoid hot or cold foods/drinks until any sensitivity dissipates. Rinsing with warm salt water, being sure not to swallow any, along with taking over-the-counter pain medications as prescribed can help with your healing process, too. As with regular cleanings, be sure to keep up with daily brushing and flossing/picking until your next visit.