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.