A regular cleaning is designed for the maintenance of healthy gums.  Healthy gums have a small, shallow space between the teeth and gums.  The procedure involves going into the space and cleaning it thoroughly by removing bacteria and tartar build up.  When a person brushes and flosses daily, and gets their teeth cleaned on a regular basis, the bacteria and tartar build up are minimal.  Healthy gums are pink in color and there is generally little or no bleeding during the cleaning.

A deep cleaning (or “scaling and root planning”) is needed when there is a larger amount of tartar and bacteria under the gums.  This occurs, when there is a deeper space between the teeth and gums, called a “pocket”.  Pockets can develop when a person has not had their teeth professionally cleaned for a long period of time or when the person does not brush and floss on a regular basis.  In addition, other health issues can also put a person at risk for developing pockets.  Pockets that measure at a certain depth are called periodontal or gum disease.  Regardless of the cause, the first step to improve this condition is to have a deep cleaning to clear the pockets of the bacteria and tartar build up.