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Are There Disadvantages to Deep Cleaning Teeth?

Updated: Nov 13

There are absolutely NO disadvantages to deep cleaning teeth, none whatsoever because all of the alleged cons for this procedure are false. I will back up all of my claims with evidence and sound reasoning.


Bleeding gums after deep cleaning
Bleeding gums after deep cleaning

A quick search through the first page of Google's search result for this query just makes me laugh. Everything on the first page was clearly NOT written by a dentist nor was it even reviewed by one. There isn't a single dentist on this planet that would even mention any of those purportedly alleged disadvantages.


With that being said, I suppose there is one disadvantage that I can possibly think of and it is the treatment cost. Due to it being more costly than a regular dental cleaning, a side effect would be a lighter wallet after treatment.


Nonetheless, let's start debunking all of these false disadvantages for scaling and root planing so you don't refuse it for silly reasons.


Alleged disadvantages of deep cleaning teeth

We all understand that a deep cleaning can treat gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. It'll also remove plaque and tartar from above AND below the gum line. Despite its wondrous benefits, a lot of online sources are alleging that there are disadvantages to getting this procedure, which are all false.


Alleged cons:

  • It can cause potential nerve damage.

  • The gums may not reattach to your teeth.

  • It can cause gum recession afterwards.

  • Can potentially cause a post-operative infection.

  • May have pain and sensitivity afterwards.


Nerve damage

It is impossible to cause nerve damage with scaling and root planing. The nerves in your mouth and face do not directly attach to your teeth so they won't get damaged.


The nerves of the teeth are attached to the root tip which is embedded in the jaw bone. Consequently that makes them inaccessible during periodontic treatment.


Gum reattachment

The gums may feel loose after the procedure but they will reattach and tighten up. That is a part of the normal healing process for the gingiva.


If they're having trouble reattaching to the tooth, you may have a health condition that affects your healing. In other words, it has nothing to do with the periodontal procedure you just had done but rather you have something else going on.


Gum recession

A deep teeth cleaning does NOT cause gum recession. If you notice the gums recede afterwards, that is the result of leaving unremoved plaque and tartar next to your teeth for a prolonged period of time.


gum recession
gum recession

You may argue that maybe it would've been better to have not done the treatment. The consequence for that is even MORE gum recession in the future because you're permitting your gum disease to continue causing damage.


Post-op infection

It is highly unlikely to develop an infection after cleaning the teeth deeply, at least we've never seen it happen with any of our patients. We typically advised our patients to rinse with salt water or with chlorhexidine (antibiotic rinse) as an adjunct to scaling and root planing.


The antibiotic rinse is sufficient in preventing most complications. As a plus it also helps the gingiva heal faster.


Pain & Sensitivity

Your teeth may feel sensitivity along with some mild discomfort after the procedure but it is not due to the deep cleaning. They feel that way because they've been covered in plaque and calculus build up for so long that the teeth aren't used to external stimuli.


Periodontal disease offers a false sense of security by covering the enamel and root surfaces with tartar build up, thus decreasing teeth sensitivity. The consequence of that is allowing the gum disease to cause further damage to your gums and periodontium (bone around the teeth).


Deep cleaning advantages

A deep cleaning is necessary if you've been diagnosed with any form of periodontitis, whether it is from mild to severe. A typical teeth cleaning will be insufficient because that can only treat gingivitis which is only the first stage of gum disease.


Before and after teeth are deeply cleaned
Before and after teeth are deeply cleaned

The advantage of deep cleaning teeth is that it can treat periodontitis and restore your oral health back to a healthy baseline. Without it, gum disease would be allowed to progress and grow more severity, thus causing irreversible damage.


Benefits:

  • Treats and stops gum disease from progressing.

  • Can eliminate gum infections and promote healing.

  • Removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line.

  • Can reduce bad breath (perio breath).

  • Preserves your teeth by preventing them from becoming looser.


What to expect for the procedure

As it's name implies, it cleans the teeth on a deeper level. It is also called scaling and root planing because in addition to cleaning the enamel above the gums, it also cleans the root surfaces below the gums.


You should expect to be numb for the procedure and it normally takes two visits to complete. However, if you're a trooper and want to get it done all in one visit, you may request your dental hygienist to do so.


What to expect:

  1. Apply topical numbing cream to the gums and soft tissue.

  2. Administer local anesthesia via an injection.

  3. Gross debridement via ultrasonic scaler at a high power setting.

  4. Scale and root plane the surfaces of each tooth.

  5. Floss and polish as necessary.



Is it painful?

Since you will be thoroughly numb for the entire procedure, there is no reason for it to feel painful. If you ever feel any discomfort while in the middle of treatment, simply raise your left hand and you can be given more local anesthetic.


In case you were curious, not all patients even find this treatment painful even without numbing. We've had a lot of patients who tolerate it just fine without even the numbing gel! Everyone is different so see how you tolerate it.

Does it cause sensitivity?


Cost is the disadvantage

The only true disadvantage of deep cleaning teeth is the cost associated with the treatment. You can expect to spend about $1200 for this periodontal procedure if you do not have insurance.


However, if you do have insurance, most PPO dental insurances will cover about 80% of the procedure which leaves you with a 20% copay. Of course, it can cost more or less depending on the cost of living in your neighborhood. So, don't be surprised if your exact cost is different


Takeaway

The alleged disadvantages of deep cleaning teeth are all false with the exception of the treatment cost. You get this procedure done because your gums and periodontal health require it. There is no alternative to the treatment so a typical pros and cons list isn't really application to this situation.


Pros:

  • Treats gum disease

  • Eliminates bad breath

  • Preserves your teeth

  • Promotes healthy gingiva

  • Prevents tooth loss to periodontitis


Cons:

  • Nerve damage

  • Gum recession

  • Prevents gum reattachment

  • Potential infection

  • Pain and sensitivity


Basically what we're trying to say is that if you need this procedure done, you should get it done. If you don't believe what your dentist or hygienist is telling you, feel free to get a dental consultation with another dental office for a second opinion.


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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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