What You Need to Know About a Deep Cleaning Teeth Procedure

Have you been told that you need a deep cleaning teeth procedure and are wondering what that means and entails? Does it imply that all other teeth cleanings are lesser and not as effective?

First, to clarify a deep cleaning teeth procedure is often called scaling and root planing, or SRP for short; all these mean the same thing. Before jumping into what it is, we need to understand why and when it is needed.

When Do I Need a Deep Dental Cleaning

Deep dental cleanings, aka SRP, are needed when there is advancing gum disease. There are 4 levels of gum disease. 


The first is gingivitis, which is where the gums are irritated, they are typically red, puffy, and bleed easily. A general cleaning also called a prophylaxis, followed up with a solid home routine of brushing and flossing, and a healthy diet is typically enough to overcome gingivitis.


The other 3 levels of gum disease are advancing degrees of bone loss and loss of structural support anchoring the teeth into their sockets. This bone loss causes pocketing around the teeth where debris builds below the gumline. 

This debris can cause infection and tartar buildup on the root of the tooth. This debris leads to more bone loss, deepening pockets, and loss of ligaments that anchor the teeth in their sockets. As the bone is lost the gums recede giving the appearance of longer teeth.

Plus all this inflammatory debris below the gumline takes a toll on your overall health. An unhealthy mouth is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and many more inflammatory conditions.

How to determine the level of gum disease

The level of periodontitis is determined by xray and probe measurements. As awful as probing sounds don’t let the name scare you, it is a part of the exam where a round-tipped instrument is gently worked around all 4 sides of each tooth to measure the depths of the pockets. 

Ideal measurements are 3mm and less. Puffy gums from gingivitis may give a few 4mm readings, as the numbers become higher this indicates bone loss around the teeth. Xrays can also reveal bone loss, especially as it becomes more severe. 

If you have periodontitis you likely will be treatment planned for a deep cleaning teeth procedure

So, What is SRP in Dentistry?   

SRP can be performed by a dentist or dental hygienist, both extensively trained to have highly sensitive tactile skills to smooth the surface of the root below the gumline. The same tools are used as with general cleanings, but more precision is required to effectively work around the small structure and shape of each individual root surface in deep pockets. 

Often an ultrasonic is used to flush out below the gum line and to remove larger debris, this then is followed up with hand instruments to precisely scale and root plane below the gum line. Hand instruments provide the tactile sensitivity needed to smooth the root’s surface.

Depending upon your sensitivity and depths of pockets local anesthetic is often provided for the patient’s comfort. 

Typically only 1 or 2 quarters of the mouth are deep cleaned per appointment, depending upon the severity and heaviness of buildup. The severity of pocketing and heaviness of debris will determine the number of appointments needed to thoroughly clean below the gumline.

The Follow Up

After all quadrants in the mouth have been completed, a follow-up appointment is scheduled a few months out to assess healing. This includes taking new probe readings to compare measurements. 

The bone that is lost will not grow back, but the goal is to stop further bone loss. However, the ligaments can return strengthening the tooth’s support.

At the return visit, any problematic areas may need to be revisited or a referral to a periodontist may be needed. The success of the treatment is also dependent upon health, diet, and good home routine. 

Concluding Thoughts on SRP Dental Cleaning

SRP if needed is best to be tackled right away to try and stop the progression of further bone loss around the teeth, because once the bone is gone it sadly doesn’t return. 

Also, the health of your mouth impacts the whole body. Find a practitioner that is warm and comfortable, because you deserve to live your best life and enjoy optimum health. 

Call our practice today to schedule your appointment!