On each of your exam and cleaning visits we will use a device called a periodontal probe to measure how deep the pocket between your gum and your tooth is. Normal values are under 3.0 mm. 4.0 mm is the beginning of gum disease in its mildest form and 5.0 mm or over is periodontal disease.
When you have pockets of 5.0 mm or over scaling and root planing [deep cleaning] is always part of the treatment. A normal cleaning involves cleaning the two surfaces above the gum. Scaling and root planing also cleans the tooth surfaces below the gum to the depth of the pocket. The scaling portion removes hard debris called calculus while root planing make sure that any damage done to the root surface by that calculus is smoothed out. By having a smooth surface this allows some reattachment of the tissue and helps prevent further attachment of the hard debris\calculus. This is always carried out under local anesthesia so that you are pain-free for the procedure.