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Deep Cleaning

(Scaling and Root Planing)

A deep cleaning, also referred to as scaling and root planing, is a procedure performed to removed plaque and bacteria beneath the surface of the gum tissue.  Dental plaque causes the gum tissue to become inflamed.  Sometimes the inflamed gum tissue separates from the tooth creating a “pocket” around the tooth.  This gum condition is referred to as periodontal disease or periodontitis.  Over time, the plaque begins to harden and turn into a substance referred to a “calculus.”  This is similar to barnacles growing on the bottom of a ship. 


Once a pocket has formed, it is very difficult to remove the plaque and bacteria beneath the gum line.  Calculus can’t be removed with regular brushing and flossing and deep pockets can’t be adequately cleaned during a regular dental cleaning because it is painful to go beneath the gum line. 

During a deep cleaning, the teeth and gums are numbed to allow the dentist or hygienist better access to deep pockets and for the removal of calculus.  Regular cleaning instruments are used during the procedure.  Sometimes the procedure is divided up into two appointments because it takes more time than a regular cleaning.  This is generally considered a non-surgical procedure.

After the deep cleaning is completed, it is normal to have some sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages.  Once the gum tissue has healed, Dr. Laborde will reevaluate the health of the gums to determine if additional treatment is needed. 

scaling and root planing
Figures show cleaning instruments removing plaque beneath the gum line
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