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Home » Deep Teeth Cleaning Procedure: A Comprehensive Guide

Deep Teeth Cleaning Procedure: A Comprehensive Guide

You may require deep teeth cleaning if regular cleaning is considered inadequate for maintaining your oral health. The procedure is more comprehensive than your regular preventative cleaning and costs more. But it can be done in one visit unless you have a severe gum infection and loose teeth.

What is deep teeth cleaning?

Deep teeth cleaning, or deep cleaning, is an established dental treatment practice involving scaling and root planing to prevent gum disease. In other words, it removes plaque, tartar, toxins, and bacteria below your gum line through to the tooth roots to prevent tooth loss.

In addition, it also smoothens the exposed surfaces of the tooth roots to promote healing and prevent calculus formation in the future.

Deep cleaning is also known as conventional or non-surgical periodontal therapy within dentistry. Tartar is called hardened deposits or calculus.

Why you may need deep teeth cleaning

You may need deep cleaning of your teeth for several reasons:

  • You have inflammation under your gumline.
  • Your gums are red and swollen.
  • Your gums bleed easily, indicating something is wrong with your teeth.
  • There are tartar stones on your teeth.
  • Your gums have gradually pulled away from your teeth, forming pockets for bacteria and food particles.
  • You are experiencing bone loss around your teeth, and your teeth are slightly loose.
  • You cannot wash away your bad breath no matter how hard you try.
  • The roots of your teeth hurt when you bite or chew something.
  • Your teeth have become sensitive or more sensitive lately.

Deep cleaning is a professional treatment. See your dentist if you have any of the above conditions to find out precisely what is behind it.

Do I need both root planing and scaling?

You may need both root planing and scaling based on your dental health. There are instances when you may need only scaling. That means your dentist will remove plaque and tartar from above and below your gum line. They will reach the bottom of the pockets between your teeth and the gums, but they won’t need to reach the roots of the teeth.

Treating severe gum disease and the loose tooth may require planing the roots of the teeth. It may happen that your loose tooth has let food particles and bacteria travel to its roots. In such a situation, the presence of an infection cannot be overruled. You will need root planing to treat the condition.

Deep Teeth Cleaning Procedure

Your deep teeth cleaning procedure will include several steps, including the following:

Initial Consultation

At this meeting, your dentist reviews your oral history and overall health. The dentist will X-ray your teeth, which will be a point of reference for the treatment.

Your dentist will discuss various aspects of your oral condition to verify why you need deep cleaning. They will show you the X-ray to prove their point.

They will also discuss the deep cleaning treatment procedure’s main points so you know what to expect.

Periodontal Probing

At this stage, a dental professional or hygienist uses a periodontal probe to record the depts of the pockets between your gums and the teeth. The probe has a thin measuring tip at its end.

The hygienist wants to know how many teeth have more than 3 mm pockets. Healthy teeth should not have more than 3 mm depth, while any depths over 4 mm are considered gum disease. Depths over 5 mm indicate that you have bone loss around your teeth.

Good to know

  • According to research, dental probe tips need a diameter of 0.6 mm and a 0.20-gram force to obtain the necessary pressure and approximate probing depth.
  • The penetration of the probe is significantly greater if you have inflammation in your gums.

Removing Plaque and Tartar

Your dental hygienist will manually scrape your teeth to remove tartar. They will use a scaler and a curette to do that. They will not see the tartar under the gum, but their professional experience will help them to locate the tartar. The sense of touch is vital for a dental hygienist.

However, technologically advanced dental clinics will use an ultrasonic scaler for the same purpose. An ultrasonic device has several advantages:

  • It uses ultrasound to chip off the tartar.
  • It causes no or minimal damage to your teeth in the cleaning process.
  • The surface of your teeth remains smooth, making it harder for plaque biofilm to reform.
  • The hygienist can flush your teeth with water or antiseptic mouthwash emitted through a hole close to the scaler’s tip.
  • Flushing with water creates an oxygenated environment in the pockets that bacteria do not like. This is not possible by using a hand tool.
  • The scaler can reach the root surface of your tooth to remove food debris and tartar.

More: Plaque Scraper: Why You Shouldn’t Use It At Home

Good to Know

  • Approximately 70% of the dry weight of plaque consists of microbial cells.
  • Ultrasound scaler may cause potential damage to the blood vessels both within and around the teeth.

Polishing the Teeth

Polishing is important for healthy teeth. It removes bacteria from the tooth surface and any temporary stains and the residue of the tartar. Most importantly, it is painless and does not take long. The hygienist uses a hand-held wand with a spinning rubber cup to polish the cleaned teeth.

Teeth polishing lasts about four months. If you have a history of gum disease or inflammation, you may make polishing part of your regular dental cleaning.

Flossing the Contact Areas

Flossing has become a part of dental cleaning for a reason. Studies show that the odds of having gum disease are 17% lower for those who floss their teeth than for those who floss less often.

Your hygienist may offer you a mirror to see how they floss your teeth. This can be an educational moment if you have not flossed your teeth before or are doing it incorrectly.

Continue flossing your teeth several times a week after going home.

Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride treatment is the final part of your deep teeth cleaning. Your hygienist applies a highly concentrated form of fluoride to the surface of your teeth. The treatment can come in the form of rinse, gel, or varnish. Some may use fluoride foam.

Although fluoride varnish sets in a few seconds, it still needs time to be effective at its best. You should not eat hard foods or consume hot drinks and alcohol for at least 6 hours following the cleaning session. Neither should you brush or floss your teeth during that time or use mouthwash. However, your dentist may instruct you not to eat or drink for half an hour after applying the varnish.

Fluoride varnish strengthens your tooth enamel. Strong enamel is more resistant to decay.

Good to Know

  • You may be allergic to fluoride.
  • If you have any mouth ulcers, let your dentist know about them.
  • If you have asthma, fluoride varnish may cause an allergic reaction, especially if it contains colophony.

Does Deep Cleaning Treatment Hurt?

Based on how deep the debris pockets or tartar are, you may feel discomfort in your gums while deep cleaning your teeth. Moreover, root planing may hurt a little bit. Your dentist will start such treatment after anesthetizing your teeth. If you need an antibiotic injection but no anesthesia, it may hurt. In addition, you may feel discomfort in your mouth once the anesthesia wears off. You may control that discomfort with any over-the-counter painkiller.

Apart from any pain from the procedure itself, you may have extra pain from the condition of your gums. If you have a deep infection and your gums have pulled away from your teeth, your teeth may be sensitive to the touch of the dental equipment. The flow of cold water may also irritate them.

If your teeth continue to hurt after the treatment, do the following:

  • Avoid acidic food.
  • Avoid spicy food.
  • Do not eat very hot or icy food.
  • Choose food that does not require heavy chewing.
  • Avoid crunchy food.

How long does deep teeth cleaning take?

Deep teeth cleaning may take 3 to 4 hours of treatment. Of that, you may need 1 to 2 hours for scaling and the rest for planing the teeth roots. However, the treatment time will depend on several variables, including the following:

  • How much plaque and tartar need to be removed from your teeth.
  • How deep the pockets are.
  • How badly infected your gums and teeth roots are.
  • How many teeth require planing.

Your dentist may treat half of your teeth in one appointment while the other half in your second appointment.

An exact treatment time cannot be determined before the treatment begins. You may have deep pockets of debris that are not visible and that can be found during the treatment procedure. Removing all debris and bacteria is vital for healing the gum infection and the future health of your mouth.

More: What is the longest dental appointment?

Deep teeth cleaning costs

Deep teeth cleaning procedure costs may be calculated in many different ways.

  • Low-end costs: $200 – $400 (full mouth)
  • High-end costs: $800 – $1600 (full mouth)
  • Per quadrant costs: $150 – $200 (You may require this if you have lots of tartar to be removed! If you have not seen your dentist in years, this may be for you!)
  • Average costs: $300 – $800 (full mouth)
  • Examination and X-ray costs: Up to $300
  • Antibiotic injection (if required): Up to $75 per tooth
  • If you need dental anesthesia, you may have to spend $500 to $800 per hour of sedation.

If you have only a few teeth left in your mouth, you may get a custom quotation for deep cleaning.

Besides, you may pay more for deep cleaning if you have chipped teeth and other cosmetic conditions. Every case is different. Your dentist can quote you a specific price based on your situation.

Deep cleaning costs in Houston, Texas, is around the national average. You may have to spend up to $200 per quadrant and up to $800 for the full mouth. We have also seen dentists charge patients as low as $100 per quadrant in Houston. Shopping around may be a good idea if you are on a budget. However, it is advisable to understand your mouth – what level of deep cleaning you might need – before looking for a cheaper dentist.

Deep teeth cleaning costs without insurance

Dental insurances usually cover the costs of regular teeth cleaning. They may not cover deep cleaning. If they do, they may cover only 50% of the costs. In addition, they may have a certain amount in place regarding how much you can claim for deep cleaning per year. That amount may not cover 50% of your costs if you have a severe gum infection. Therefore, it is advisable to know the terms of your insurance policy. 

However, despite dental insurance, you may have to pay as much as $400 out of pocket to cover the deep cleaning costs.

Shall I have loose teeth after deep cleaning?

Having a loose tooth means one of these two things:

  • There is bone loss around the tooth
  • The tooth has lost some of its usual structure

Both of these conditions are directly or indirectly related to gum infection. Deep cleaning will not fill any holes you may have in your teeth. It will not regrow tooth roots for you. In addition, it will not regrow your bone.

On the other hand, it will stop gum disease so that you do not lose any more bone and the infection at the roots of your teeth is healed. That means you will still have loose teeth, as you had before the deep cleaning.

Can my teeth fall out after deep cleaning?

A successfully executed deep teeth cleaning procedure may bring back your infected gums to health. Once the debris, tartar, and dangerous bacteria are removed, the teeth will heal little by little. That does not mean your teeth will not fall.

If the infection has reached the tooth roots, your dental pulp may be infected, and your nerve tissues inside the pulp chamber are dead. Deep cleaning alone cannot save such a tooth. You may need a root canal treatment.

If you have lost a significant amount of bone around the infected tooth, the tooth may fall out. If that happens, you may regenerate the bone for an implant, provided the remaining bone mass is not enough to support an implant.

Deep Teeth Cleaning Procedure: Final Word

You may brush your teeth as instructed by your dentist. But it is impossible not to have plaque and tartar on your teeth. That is where deep cleaning comes in.

Now that you have learned what the deep teeth cleaning procedure involves, you may be ready for it without fear. Find the best dental hygienist around you and book a cleaning and planing session.


  • Do I Really Need That Expensive Deep Cleaning at the Dentist? Bloomberg. Accessed: Oct 4, 2022.
  • J J Garnick, L Silverstein. Periodontal probing: probe tip diameter. Journal of Periodontology. Accessed: Oct 4, 2022.
  • J Caton, G Greenstein, A M Polson. Depth of periodontal probe penetration related to clinical and histologic signs of gingival inflammation. Journal of Periodontology. Accessed: Oct 4, 2022.
  • Allison E. Mann and others. Differential preservation of endogenous human and microbial DNA in dental calculus and dentin. Scientific Reports. Accessed: Oct 4, 2022.

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