Periodontal Cleaning

What is periodontal cleaning and how can it help reverse gum disease before it has a chance to permamently damage your teeth and overall health?

This brief article is all about periodontal cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing – this is what it is, what it does, and how it helps to prevent and revese gum disease.

Why you need periodontal cleaning

Does everyone need periodontal cleaning?

The answer to this question is a big resounding YES.

Periodontal cleaning is the single most effective preventative measure and treatment for gum disease that is in its early stages of the development.

Gum disease is very common, and when it first starts developing the symptoms as well as the consequences are very mild. Some of the signs to look out for include bad breath, swollen and irritated gum tissue, and gums that are bleeding when you brush your teeth.

This is only the beginning, however. Gum disease that is left untreated can rapidly develop and become something far worse. Severe periodontal disease is an oral health disaster that can lead to loose teeth, tooth loss, blood infection and heart disease. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.

In other words, you want to do everything you can to prevent gum disease from developing in the first place. And, if it develops anyway, it is important to seek treatment before it becomes more severe.

What periodontal cleaning involves

A periodontal cleaning is usually carried out by your normal dentist, or by a dental hygienist. 

The cleaning focuses on periodontal maintenance and the prevention (and sometimes the reversal) of early-stage periodontal disease. Periodontal cleaning can also be one of the steps in getting rid of bacterial infection. 

During the cleaning process the dentist or hygienist uses an untrasonic device to scrape away plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums, including the insides of your gum pockets.

The procedure takes approximately 45 minutes and is usually performed without anesthesia. However, if you are very sensitive to discomfort, you can ask for local anesthetic.

To treat periodontal disease (gum disease)

Scaling and root planing is most commonly used to restore gum health by cleaning out any tartar and plaque buildup that the patient is unable to get rid of on their own. 

Because gum disease is almost always the unfortunate result of poor or lacking oral hygiene, a deep cleaning can sometimes be enough to get rid of gum infection and reverse the disease before it escalates further.

If the gum disease is already far progressed, or if your case is complex for whatever reason, your regular dentist or dental hygienist may refer you to a periodontist, as deep cleaning is not be enough to treat severe periodontal disease.

To learn more about what a periodontist is and what periodontal disease treatments they have to offer, read our article on the topic here.

For periodontal maintenance

Routine dental cleanings are great for periodontal maintenance. If you get regular cleanings they can make the difference between whether or not gum disease has a chance to develop.

Ideally, you should go for a deep cleaning about four times a year. Why wait until your gum line is already receding?

Frequently asked questions about periodontal cleaning

How painful is a periodontal cleaning?

Periodontal cleanings can be rather uncomfortable, particularly if you have sensitive teeth, but if your teeth are healthy, they aren’t painful.

If you are nervous or have a low pain threshold, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for local anesthetic before the cleaning begins.

Is periodontal cleaning worth it?

100%. Periontal cleanings are one of the best ways not only to treat periodontal disease in the early stages, but to prevent the disease from developing in the first place.

When you get a periodontal cleaning, it reaches areas of your mouth that it is simply impossible for you to reach yourself, meaning that a scaling and root planing can remove tartar buildup that would otherwise end up causing gum irritation, disease or tooth decay.

What is involved in a periodontal cleaning?

A periodontal cleaning involves thorough scaling and root planing. 

This means that the dentist or dental hygienist will thoroughly clean inbetween your teeth as well as between your teeth and gums, all the way down to the bottoms of your gum pockets where the gum, tooth and bone all meet.

How often do you need a periodontal cleaning?

You technically only need a periodontal cleaning if your gums are red, inflamed and in the early stages of gum disease. 

Having said that, it is recommended that you have routine cleanings much more often than that to prevent gum infections from developing in the first place and to maintain overall good health. About four times a year is a good number to aim for.

Final thought

Periodontal cleaning is a key tool for periodontal maintenance. It can even reverse mild cases of gum disease before it progresses to the point of causing permament damage to your gums, teeth and facial bones.

It is a good idea to have periodontal cleanings several times a year, not only to treat the early signs of gum disease if you have it, but also as a preventative measure and as a way of keeping your oral health in tip top shape.

In other words, getting regular periodontal cleanings is always worth every second and every penny you spend on it. 

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