Sometimes it is necessary to go beyond the scope of a basic cleaning. Generally, a deep cleaning is necessary when a tooth has deep “pockets”. The “pocket” of a tooth is the space created between the gums and the tooth’s surface. Healthy teeth generally have a pocket of 2-4 mm. When the gums are insulted by bacteria, the attachment to the tooth retreats, creating deeper pockets. These pockets serve as a safe place for bacteria to live, as they are often out of the reach of your toothbrush. Cleaning these pockets is much more involved than the basic cleaning, and generally requires anesthesia.