Deep Cleaning FAQs


What is a deep cleaning?
Are deep cleanings necessary?
Are deep cleanings painful?
Is anesthetic required for deep cleanings?
Does dental insurance cover deep cleanings?
Are deep cleanings safe?
Can deep cleanings make teeth loose?
Can deep cleanings damage teeth?
Can deep cleanings cause infection?
Can deep cleanings be done in one visit?
Can deep cleanings cure bad breath?
Do you need a deep cleaning?

What is a deep cleaning?

A deep cleanings is a type of teeth cleaning performed by your dental hygienist or dentist. A “regular” teeth cleaning is termed a prophylaxis because its purpose is to prevent the formation of periodontal disease. A deep cleaning’s purpose is to treat periodontal disease that has already developed.

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Are deep cleanings necessary?

Yes.

Deep cleanings are necessary for patients with periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is the loss of the bone and gum attachment to the teeth.  It is a “silent” disease, and most patients are not aware that they have it.  Your dentist diagnoses periodontal disease through dental x-rays and gum measurements called probing depths.

The diagnosis of periodontal diseases requires any combination of the following:

  • Dental x-rays showing loss of the jawbone around tooth roots – Often called progressive bone loss, this disease process will not reverse itself without intervention. As bone loss progresses, you lose the necessary support for teeth to stay in the jawbone, causing gum recession and even loss of the teeth.
  • Dental x-rays showing hard bacterial buildup (called tartar or calculus) below the gum level – This hard buildup will not come off with simple brushing and flossing. The only way to remove it is a professional cleaning with professional tool.
  • Gum measurements greater than 4mm – Toothbrush bristles and floss are unable to reach further than 4mm under your gums. Therefore, this area is impossible for you to reach.  It requires special access by a professional with tools that can reach into the pockets created by the gum attachment loss.

If you have periodontal disease, a “regular” cleaning is no longer an option. Prophylactic cleanings do not remove bacteria that has accumulated beneath the gums.  Periodontal disease will continue to progress without a deep cleaning.

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Are deep cleanings painful?

The answer to this question varies from patient to patient.

In general, the answer is yes. The inflammation that accompanies periodontal disease causes tenderness of the gums. Many patients cannot tolerate the gum measurements required to diagnose periodontal disease.

Anesthetic is the solution for patients whose gums are tender, and for whom a deep cleaning would be painful.  There are various options including a topical numbing gel, a numbing solution placed directly into the deep pockets, or the injection of local anesthetic.

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Is anesthetic required for deep cleanings?

No.

Anesthesia is not a requirement for the procedure. Our goal at Premier Dental of Ohio is for every patient to be comfortable with every procedure. If you prefer to have a procedure performed without local anesthetic, ask your dentist what other options are available. We are offer various options for your comfort.

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Does dental insurance cover deep cleanings?

Yes.

Deep cleanings are a procedure covered by dental insurance as long as your dentist shows the diagnosis of periodontal disease through any of the three criteria listed above.  Because a deep cleaning is treating disease instead of preventing disease, it is not a preventive dental benefit. Rather, under most plans, it falls into the category of basic dental procedure. We can help you determine your exact benefits for this procedure.

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Are deep cleanings safe?

Yes.

Deep cleanings create a healthy oral environment and have minimal post-operative complications.

The most common complaint after a deep cleaning is minor gum tenderness and mild tooth sensitivity.

It is important to note that deep cleanings can cause damage to the tooth’s root if performed improperly or by an untrained person.  All of the registered dental hygienists and dentists at Premier Dental of Ohio are skilled and trained extensively in the appropriate techniques for deep cleanings.

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Can deep cleanings make teeth loose?

No.

Deep cleanings do not remove the tooth’s attachment to the gum and bone.

In some cases, heavy accumulation of hard tartar buildup splints teeth together.  This can mask the amount of bone loss and give a false impression of stability.  When we remove that buildup, it can expose the looseness that is already present.

Thus, the teeth can feel loose after a deep cleaning.  But they are not loosened by the deep cleaning itself.

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Can deep cleanings damage teeth?

Yes.

But not at Premier Dental of Ohio.

As noted above, a deep cleaning performed by an unskilled or untrained practitioner can remove portions of the root and tear the fragile gum attachment.  It is imperative that deep cleanings only be performed by dentists and hygienists with the correct training.

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Can deep cleanings cause infection?

No.

Deep cleanings are performed on patients who have periodontal disease, which is a chronic infection. The infection is present before the deep cleaning ever starts. The deep cleaning removes the bacteria and enables the patient to begin managing the disease with good oral hygiene at home.

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Can deep cleanings be done in one visit?

Yes, but we do not recommend it.

Deep cleaning of the entire mouth in one visit is usually discouraged for three reasons.

  1. Anesthetic – If local anesthetic is used to make the procedure painless, treating the entire mouth would require anesthesia of the entire mouth. Basically, everything from cheekbones to chin is profoundly numb.  Most patients cannot tolerate this and are more comfortable being numb on only one side of the mouth at a time.
  2. Feel the Difference – Treating one side of the mouth allows the patient to feel the difference in the “clean” side versus the “dirty” side. Being able to distinguish the difference helps the patient understand what their teeth should feel like when they are properly cleaned.  This improves home care.
  3. Insurance Benefits – Many dental insurance companies will only pay for the treatment of one side of the mouth at a time. Completing all four quadrants of deep cleaning may reduce the benefits you receive from your dental insurance.

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Can deep cleanings cure bad breath?

Yes.

Most bad breath results from a proliferation of bacteria in the mouth.  Because periodontal disease is a chronic infection harboring millions of bacteria in the deep gum pockets, bad breath is a common symptom. When deep cleanings reduce the bacterial count in the mouth, the problem of bad breath is usually improved.

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Do you need a deep cleaning?

Call today to schedule an evaluation with one of our highly trained dentists.  We will perform the x-rays and gum measurements necessary to diagnose periodontal disease.  If you have periodontal disease, we will discuss your treatment options with you in detail.

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