‘Deep Clean’ Vs A Scale And Polish

A look at the difference between two types of teeth and gum cleaning methods.

Gum disease checkMany of our Ipswich dental patients will be familiar with the scale and polish procedure. This is something that we would encourage all patients of the Foxhall Dental Practice to have as a matter of routine.

A deep clean, also called ‘root planing’ is a different matter altogether and we hope that our patients avoid the need for this particular procedure.

In today’s blog, we are going to take a look at each of these procedures in turn; at what they involve and the reasons for carrying them out.

Scale and polish

This is a routine but thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums that is carried out by a dental hygienist. It is largely a preventative measure but can also be used to reverse or manage gum disease when already present. We recommend that all patients have this procedure every six months, or more frequently if you are in a higher risk group, such as if you are a diabetic or a smoker. The procedure itself is non invasive and usually requires no local anaesthetic. The hygienist first of all scrapes away hardened bacteria and minerals that have formed on and around the teeth and gum line. The bulk of what is left is then shattered and removed using a special sonic dental tool. Finally, the teeth and gums will be thoroughly cleaned using a powerful high speed brush.

By removing the hardened deposits, it makes it more difficult for bacteria to attach itself to the teeth and gums. In addition to this, a rough surface will also become stained more easily and whilst it is not the most important aspect of this procedure, our Ipswich dental patients are often pleased to find that their teeth also appear whiter after having them cleaned in this way.

Deep Clean/Root Planing

Anyone that needs to have a deep clean will already have gum disease that is quite advanced. Whilst a routine hygienist cleaning will clean around the teeth and gum line, a deep clean, or root planing, is used when the bacteria has become a problem further down the tooth, sometimes reaching the root of the tooth and the surrounding bone tissue. To clean these areas requires a more invasive procedure that often requires a local anaesthetic. It is sometimes also carried out over a number of visits to limit the discomfort for the patient.

To clean these areas, the parts of the affected teeth between the gums have to be accessed. This may mean that the gums have to be pulled away, or sometimes cut away from the teeth a little, so that the dentist can access the roots.  Once the anaesthetic wears off, there will be some residual soreness and possibly some bleeding too from the gums. You will be given aftercare advice on how to look after the affected area to allow it to heal speedily and effectively.

Unlike a scale and polish, this procedure can’t be carried out by a dental hygienist and  has to be performed by a periodontist who is trained and experienced in this type of procedure.

The link

As you will have noticed, both of these procedures largely relate to the prevention, management and treatment of gum disease. At all stages, gum disease can cause problems, although these tend to be less severe and are more easily reversed during the earlier stage we know as gingivitis. At this stage, symptoms may include some bleeding of the gums when you brush, soreness and inflammation of the gums and also bad breath, or halitosis. These also often occur with the later stage of periodontitis but there are potentially more serious consequences at this latter stage if not treated.

As the bacteria affects the bone, it causes it to deteriorate and lose density. As it does so, it becomes less capable of holding the tooth securely in place. This can then cause your tooth to become loose and it may even, in some instances, fall out.

Whilst we may think that we look after our teeth well, some of us might take less care of our gums, perhaps not releasing that this could result in us losing teeth. Looking after your gums is equally important and is why, as well as encouraging you to clean them at home, The Foxhall Dental Practice recommends that you have a scale and polish on a regular ongoing basis.

If you would like to book an appointment to have this treatment or if you would like to have a gum health check and find out how you can improve your oral health care, please call our Ipswich dental clinic today on 01473 258396.