A deep cleaning at the dentist is also called scaling and planing. This is different from the regular cleaning you get twice a year. It is a deeper cleaning that goes under your gums to prevent or cure gum disease.
Dental deep cleaning may cost $150 to $350 if you don’t have dental insurance. It may cost more if you need anesthesia.
Why Do You Need Deep Teeth Cleaning?
Gum disease is a preventable infection of your mouth. It’s also called periodontitis. Without treatment, it can damage the gum tissue above and around your teeth. Periodontitis can even damage your jawbone and teeth if it’s left too long.
Periodontitis separates your gums from your teeth. This leaves pockets for bacteria to grow. This bacteria is not removed by regular brushing or flossing.
Deep teeth cleaning allows a dentist to get underneath your gums and remove harmful bacteria. Afterward, your gums can reattach to your teeth with healthy tissue.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
Periodontitis is usually caused by a lack of oral hygiene. You can help prevent it by brushing your teeth regularly, flossing, and using mouthwash.
Going to the dentist at least twice a year, or as often as recommended, is also part of a good oral hygiene routine.
What Happens in a Dental Deep Cleaning?
Your dentist may use a local anesthetic to numb the area. They can inject it or put it on the tissue, as with lidocaine. The type of anesthetic will depend on your condition.
Dentists use a scraping tool to get under your gums to clean out bacteria. They then smooth out your teeth’s roots in a process called planing to allow your gums to reattach. Some dentists use an ultrasonic tool for scraping because it can be more comfortable than the regular scraper tool.
Dentists also sometimes put antibiotic fibers into your gums to help fight bacteria. Or they may prescribe antibiotic pills or mouthwash.
What Happens After a Deep Cleaning?
You may have sensitive teeth for a week or so after a deep cleaning of your teeth. Your mouth may be painful for a few days.
Your gums should be more healthy and your gum disease should go away if you keep up good dental hygiene after the procedure. Quitting smoking also helps to promote healing and prevent gum disease.
Risks of Deep Dental Cleaning
Scaling and root planing is a low-risk procedure for most people. You may be more likely to get an infection from the bacteria in your mouth if you have a weakened immune system, heart problems, or artificial body parts.
Oral bacteria sometimes enter your bloodstream. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before and after the procedure if you have an immune problem or are in a high-risk group.
How to Pay for Dental Deep Cleaning
If you’re worried about the cost of deep cleaning, you have several options.
Just ask. Ask your dentist if they have any programs to help people pay for procedures. Some practices offer payment plans. Others have membership programs with discounts.
Dental insurance. You may be able to get an affordable plan from your state's Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange if you don’t have dental coverage through an employer. This can help make the cost of dental care more manageable. Keep in mind that ACA plans for children must include dental coverage.
Dental schools. These places offer low-cost procedures. Sometimes, you pay only for the materials.
Charity. Several charitable organizations offer help with dental procedures in the U.S. One of these is the Dental Lifeline Network.
Federally qualified health-care centers. These centers provide low-cost or free dental services to people who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.