Gums can become inflamed or infected if they’re not treated properly — a condition known as gum disease. In these cases, a deep cleaning may be necessary to remove hardened plaque and calculus from below the gum line.

Here, we will go over some of the most common questions we get from our patients about deep cleanings, also known as an SRP. Keep reading to find answers to your questions or book an appointment with our skilled periodontist at Atlanta Center for Advanced Periodontics.

1. What is gum disease?

Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis. It is a serious condition caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque can build up anywhere on the tooth surface but it’s most common in areas around or below the gum line. When plaque isn’t properly removed, it infects the gums and can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems.

Causes of gum disease include inadequate oral hygiene, genetics, and smoking. Gum disease may become acute if you have diabetes or other illnesses that affect your immune system.

2. What does a deep cleaning do?

A deep cleaning may be recommended if you have signs of periodontal disease.

This procedure is also known as scaling & root planing or SRP. It is an in-depth cleaning that removes plaque and calculus from below the gum line. This procedure involves reaching beyond the gum line to remove plaque buildup and promote healing.

3. How do I know if I have gum disease?

If you have gum disease, you may notice some of these symptoms:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Chronic bad breath

4. What’s the difference between a regular routine dental cleaning and a deep cleaning?

Regular dental cleanings, also called prophylaxis, are recommended for patients without gum disease. During a routine cleaning, your hygienist will remove plaque and calculus buildup along your gum line and between your teeth. These routine cleanings are essential to prevent gum disease and other dental issues.

Deep cleanings are more thorough than regular cleanings. These are necessary for patients with gum disease because they remove the bacteria buildup below the gum line, which allows the inflamed gums to heal.

5. Can a deep dental cleaning cure gum disease?

In the early stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis, it can. A deep cleaning will remove the plaque that is built up in your mouth and causing gum disease, helping your gums heal and reattach to your teeth.

However, if you are in an advanced stage of gum disease, you may need other treatments, like periodontal therapy.

6. Do periodontal cleanings hurt?

At Atlanta Center for Advanced Periodontics, our periodontist uses a local anesthetic, which ensures our patients feel comfortable throughout the procedure. You will feel some pressure on your gums as they are cleaned but this should not be painful.

If you experience any discomfort during or after the procedure, let your periodontist know immediately.

7. What should I expect after a deep cleaning?

You may feel some soreness after the procedure. However, you can use pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to treat it.

While your mouth is healing, you may experience some bleeding, swelling, and tooth sensitivity. These are normal side effects of the procedure and will go away in a few days. If pain persists longer than expected, give your periodontist a call!

8. How does a periodontist perform a deep cleaning?

Before the procedure begins, your periodontist will numb the area using a local anesthetic.

Using high-tech instruments, your periodontist will clean the surface of your teeth and beneath the gum line. They will also use special tools to remove plaque and calculus from under existing fillings or crowns.

9. How long does a deep cleaning take?

The duration of a deep cleaning depends on the condition of your teeth and gums, but most deep cleanings take 1-2 hours.

10. How often should periodontal cleanings be done?

This can vary from patient to patient. When you visit your periodontist, they will create an individualized treatment plan for you that may include several periodontal cleanings a year.

11. How can I prevent gum disease?

Good oral hygiene is a key component of preventing gum disease. To keep your gums in good shape, follow these recommendations:

  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Keep up with regular checkups. Your periodontist can help you identify signs of gum disease before it becomes severe.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol consumption — they are both known to promote the growth of bad bacteria in the mouth, which will make gums more prone to inflammation.
  • Use mouthwash if possible.

What a deep cleaning can do for your gums

Deep cleanings are important to prevent gum recession and tooth loss caused by periodontal disease. If you think you may need a deep cleaning, our experienced periodontist at Atlanta Center for Advanced Periodontics is here to answer all of your questions, help you find out if you have gum disease, and create a customized treatment plan for your needs.

We are excited to help you take the best care of your mouth! Contact us online to schedule an appointment.