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Dental cleaning can mean several different things: there is a "regular cleaning" and then there is a "deep cleaning". The following information will help you understand the difference between these procedures, as well as implications that  each of these procedures have when it comes to your oral health.

What is a Regular Cleaning?

Prophylaxis, which is also known as regular cleaning,  is probably what you think of when consider going for a dental checkup. During a regular cleaning the dentist will remove plaque, calculus (hardened plaque) and stains from teeth.

This cleaning occurs only on the visible part of the tooth, meaning the dentist will not go underneath your gums to clean out any material, because for the typical, healthy  patient is not necessary. In our office, we’ll pair your regular cleanings (recommended twice a y ear) with oral exam by the dentist and updates on x-rays as needed. We also check the health of your gums and surrounding tissues at these visits, which take about one hour.

It's important to understand that regular cleaning is only recommended for patients who have generally good dental health and do not suffer from bone loss or gum problems (bleeding, recession, infection, etc.)

Deep Cleaning or Scaling & Root Planning

Scaling & root planning (aka deep cleaning) is a procedure needed if you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease. This treatment is quite different from prophylaxis. Deep cleaning involves removal of tartar, bacteria, toxic deposits from the root of a tooth.

Many people can have periodontal disease and not even know it.

Symptoms include:

  • bleeding gums

  • bad breath

  • receding gums

  • swollen/red gums.


However, many people do not notice any symptoms at all. That’s why it may come as a surprise when your dentist recommends scaling & root planing instead of a regular cleaning. It’s important to understand that this procedure is vital to getting periodontal disease under control & avoid future tooth loss.