Deep Dental Cleaning vs Routine Dental Cleaning – The Differences

deep dental cleaning

In order to keep good overall dental health, we should brush and floss our teeth on a daily basis (at least twice a day) and schedule for regular dental appointments and check-ups at least every six months. Another part of good dental hygiene routine is having your teeth cleaned. However, did you know that there are actually two different types of dental cleaning – deep dental cleaning and routine dental cleaning? Today we will be focusing on both types and discuss the differences between them.

How are deep dental cleaning and routine dental cleaning different?

Routine dental cleaning and deep dental cleaning (also known as root scaling and planing) has generally speaking the same goal – to get rid of the unwanted food plaque, tartar deposits and causes of cavities, gum disease and other oral health problems. But aside from this, the primary objective of each treatment is slightly different:

With routine cleaning the dental hygienist is aiming to remove plaque and tartar deposits around the gumline. It’s recommended that this procedure is done twice a year.

Deep dental cleaning or scaling provide a more thorough cleaning process, meaning that it removes dental plaque and tartar above the gumline, but also underneath it as well. It is mostly recommended if your gums, bone tissue and bones are affected by gum disease.

What are the other differences between the two procedures?

Even though we should have our teeth regularly cleaned every year (at least twice), according to some studies 42% of Americans fail to even visit their dentist regularly (every six months). If you’ve noticed some of these signs, that it might be time for a routine or deep dental cleaning.

Routine dental cleaning

It’s highly recommended that you schedule a regular dental cleaning with your dentist if you:

  1. Haven’t been to your dentist in over six months
  2. Noticed that your smile looks a little dull
  3. Noticed sharp and sudden pain in your teeth when you drink hot or cold beverages – your teeth are sensitive

Scaling, Root Planing or Deep Dental Cleaning

If you started showing early signs of periodontal (gum) disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will resort to deep dental cleaning. The most common signs of gum disease include:

  1. Swollen and/or bleeding gums
  2. Hard boils or bumps on gums
  3. Foul breath
  4. Gum irritation that is persistent for more than two weeks

Is the experience from these two procedures different?

Even though the main goal of both procedures is to remove plaque and tartar deposits, deep dental cleaning takes more time and effort only because it’s more thorough and extensive.

When it comes to routine cleaning, the process can be done in about an hour. If you suffer from anxiety and you’re nervous before the cleaning process, you can take some sedation (laughing gas) so that the process is more comfortable. Anesthesia is generally not used for regular dental cleaning.

For root scaling the entire procedure is generally broken down into 4 different phases, each phase of each quadrant of your teeth. But it can also be done during one session although it will take a significant amount of time. Deep dental cleaning, since it’s more thorough and involves going underneath the gum line, is a bit uncomfortable (sometimes slightly painful) so dentist often recommend using anesthesia.

If you fit into any of the signs/symptoms mentioned above, it’s highly recommended that you contact your dentist or dental hygienist ands schedule for a dental cleaning. It can really make a difference in your overall dental health.


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Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”