Teeth Cleaning: Safety, Side Effects, Disadvantages and Benefits
Photo of the office manager on the phone

Teeth Cleaning: Safety, Side Effects, Disadvantages and Benefits

April 18, 2022

What is Dental (Teeth) Cleaning?

Routine Teeth cleaning is the key to a healthy smile. The main goal of Dental cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth and under the gum line to reduce the chances of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.

A dentist also gets a chance to look for signs of tooth decay, oral cancer, and other oral health issues during the Cleaning.

A non-surgical, routine procedure dental Cleaning can vary in duration, depending on the condition of the teeth and gums. Usually, a routine dental cleaning takes a little under an hour.

However, the duration can vary according to how much Scaling is necessary.

Dental Cleaning Process and Types

Physical Examination

A physical examination of teeth and gums before the dental Cleaning is essential for the dentist to check for any signs of gingivitis or other potential concerns.

In some cases, X-rays can help identify anything abnormal that requires treatment or a referral to a specialist.

Once all the assessment data is collected and a diagnosis of current conditions is made, a treatment plan can be created to address the specific needs.

The frequency of X-rays or radiographs depends on a few key factors like a patient’s age, oral health, risk for disease, and any signs or symptoms of oral disease.

The Cleaning begins once the assessments and recommendations are complete.

There are four different types of dental cleanings for various issues:

  • Prophylaxis Cleaning: A preventative cleaning, prophylaxis refers to an action to prevent disease. Commonly used for individuals with overall good dental health, plaque, and tartar are removed from the front, back, and teeth during a prophylaxis cleaning. Usually recommended at least twice a year to keep teeth and gums healthy, they can sometimes be recommended every 3 to 4 months in high-risk patients.  
  • Scaling and Root Planing: Also known as deep Cleaning, Scaling, and root planing are performed on patients affected by gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis. There are two main steps which include:
  • Scaling: Removal of plaque and tartar from the visible surface of the teeth and the gum pocket below the gum line. 
  • Planning: After clearing all the gum pockets of plaque and tartar, the root surface is smoothed. It makes reattaching of the gums to teeth easier. In some cases, local anesthetics and multiple dental appointments are needed to complete Scaling and root planing, which may be needed. 
  • Periodontal Maintenance: Periodontal maintenance is essential for those affected with gum disease. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is not reversible with treatment. However, both these gum diseases are progressive and continue to worsen if not treated, eventually leading to tooth loss. Performed more frequently than preventative cleanings, periodontal cleanings are usually continued until the symptoms are adequately managed. 
  • Gross Debridement: Performed when regular teeth cleaning is not enough. Gross Debridement is usually used for people who have delayed dental visits or teeth cleanings for quite some time and have a substantial buildup of plaque and tartar. Plaque is first removed with a scaler tool, and then a unique electric tool is usually needed to loosen and remove tartar from the teeth as tartar hardens and has been in place for a while. A regular prophylaxis cleaning is performed afterward.

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride treatment is the last step of the cleaning process and is used to protect the teeth for several months to help fight against cavities.

A foamy gel or a sticky paste is placed into a mouthpiece that fits over the teeth and is left on the teeth for one minute.

Sometimes, fluoride varnish is painted onto the teeth with a small brush. The varnish hardens when in contact with saliva; one can eat and drink it immediately afterward. 

Also Read: Difference Between Routine & Deep Dental Cleaning

How Often Should One Get Dental Cleaning?

The frequency of dental Cleaning depends on what the dentist or dental Hygienist observes in the mouth, during the examination, and the patient’s unique circumstances.

Dentists usually recommend twice-a-year cleanings for optimal oral health, but a shorter interval of every three to four months may be essential if there are any signs of gum disease.

Molar sealants might be recommended in children to help prevent cavities in areas that are difficult to brush.

Returning to the dentist for regular teeth cleanings is vital to prevent problems altogether. 

What Type of Cleaning Is Good for Me?

While prophylaxis cleaning is usually enough for most people, scaling and root planing, periodontal maintenance, or gross debridement may be advisable for a few.

The dentist or a dental hygienist can best suggest the Cleaning you need after a physical examination.

It is essential to mention here that each type of Cleaning is bound to help your oral health and prevent painful dental problems. 

What are the Benefits of Deep Cleaning Teeth?

Deep Cleaning is needed if gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating a space more than 5 mm deep.

The space between the gums and teeth can continue to widen with the worsening of the gum disease.

This can further weaken the bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth or tooth loss.

Deep Cleaning helps to:

  • Improve overall health 
  •  Stop the advancement of gum disease.
  •  Treat an existing infection and promote healing
  •  Clean the teeth above and below the gumline
  •  Get rid of bad breath caused by gum disease
  •  Protect the roots of the teeth

What are the side effects and disadvantages of teeth cleaning?

Although deep Cleaning can effectively treat gum disease, it has its risks, too, like any procedure. The disadvantages of deep cleaning teeth are:

  • It can cause nerve damage
  •  No guarantee of the reattachment of gums to the teeth
  •  It can cause the gums to recede
  •  Possibility of infection if one has a compromised immune system
  •  It can cause Pain and sensitivity
  •  Antibiotics may be needed

Dr Sheena Gaur at Kirkland Premier Dentistry says that Pain and sensitivity are the most common side effects of Deep Dental cleaningand any other risks from deep Cleaning are usually minimal and last only about 5 to 7 days.

However, this may extend to a few more days for extensive cases. Those with a compromised immune system might have to take an antibiotic for a few days to avoid the risk of infection after the procedure.

In some rare cases, deep dental cleanings can release bacteria into the bloodstream. 

Is Deep Cleaning Teeth Painful Harmful?

Some discomfort can be caused by teeth scaling and root planing. However, a topical or local anesthetic is given to numb the gums.

Some sensitivity can also be expected after the treatment; the gums might swell. One can also have minor bleeding.

How Can One Reduce Sensitivity After the Procedure?

Sensitivity can be reduced by eating soft foods for a few days after the procedure. Scorching & cold foods and drinks should also be avoi21+ded.

Over-the-counter pain medications and warm salt water rinsing can also help reduce inflammation. 

Diligent and regular brushing and flossing twice a day can promote healing and reduce further gum inflammation. 


A deep teeth cleaning can help you get rid of bad breath and promote the healing of gum disease.

Though deep cleanings have risks, they are usually minimal and can be managed easily.

However, it is important to understand possible complications or side effects before going in for the procedure.

An experienced dentist or dental Hygienist can guide you about the type of procedure recommended for you after your check-up.

Is teeth cleaning safe or not?

Dental Cleaning is a relatively safe procedure, but some sensitivity and swelling can be expected afterward.

However, if swelling, bleeding, or Pain continues for more than a week after the procedure, one must see the dentist immediately.

Contact Dr Sheena Gaur at Kirkland Premier Dentistry today to learn more about dental cleaning options!

we'd love to hear from you

    Thank you!

    Your message has been received. We will respond as soon as possible.
    Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.