Scaling and root planing is one of the most conservative and effective procedures to treat periodontal disease before it progresses. Scaling is the removal of calculus (commonly called tartar) and plaque that attach to the tooth surfaces. Scaling and root planing cleans between the gums and the teeth along the roots. Scaling and root planing specifically targets the areas below the gum line (along the root). Scaling and root planing are sometimes referred to as a deep dental cleaning.
Scaling involves removal of built up plaque at the gum line using either manual hand instruments or an ultrasonic cleaning tool (the vibrations break up the tartar and plaque). During root planing, your dentist or hygienist will be gently cleaning the roots of your teeth, and removing any rough spots along the roots and teeth. These rough spots tend to be a trap for bacteria and plaque. Plaque is far more likely to stick to rough surfaces. As the bacteria builds up in the form of plaque it creates a sticky surface for even more bacteria to accumulate. The root surface is made smooth in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining tartar and smooths
irregular areas of the root surface. This procedure is usually performed using local anesthesia, because the roots of teeth are unprotected by enamel and are very sensitive. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb your mouth before starting the procedure. Local anesthetic should prevent you from feeling discomfort during the root planing and scaling. Instead, you’ll just feel the pressure of the instruments in your mouth. It usually takes more than one visit to complete scaling and root planing.
Since all of that deep cleaning can leave your teeth pretty sensitive, the dentist or hygienist will only do one part your mouth at a time. The number of treatments can depend on how severe your periodontal disease is and your personal oral hygiene habits. It generally takes 2 visits to complete the scaling and root planing procedure. You will schedule your follow up appointments about 1 week apart from each other. It will also be recommended that you schedule more frequent cleanings (every 3-4 months) after scaling and root planing to help prevent the return of gum disease.
Why is Scaling and Root Planing necessary?
Scaling and root planing actually helps gums heal. The gum tissues will have an easier time reattaching themselves to a smoother root surface than a rough one. The smoother surface also helps keep dental plaque from attacking the tooth’s root surface. This makes it far easier to maintain the gum tissue following treatment. Scaling and root planing has been shown to help prevent periodontal disease from spreading and it can also reverse the signs of ginigvitis (the earliest form of periodontal disease).
Following Scaling and Root Planing Treatment
Once the scaling and root planing is completed, oral hygiene preventive care is necessary to keep gums healthy. Periodontal disease can not be cured but it can be held at bay with proper oral hygiene techniques and practices. Brushing and flossing will help fight the dental plaque that is constantly forming around teeth. Antibacterial rinses, such as Peridex, and stannous fluoride rinses help keep bad bacteria at bay. Tartar dissolving products such as Periogen will help keep teeth cleaner between cleanings and allow for greater healing to occur. Regular dental examinations and visits to your hygienist are required to clean areas we are unable to.
Risks of Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing can introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream through the process. Gum tissue can also be at risk of infection. You may need to take antibiotics before and after surgery if you have a condition that puts you at high risk for a severe infection or if infections are particularly dangerous for you.
You may need to take antibiotics for the following reasons:
- -Have certain heart problems that place you at increased to get a heart infection called endocarditis.
- -Have a weakened immune system.
- -Had recent major surgeries or have man made body parts, such as an artificial hip or heart valve.
A simple, conservative procedure like scaling and root planing can reduce periodontal disease’s effects and restore the gum tissue to a healthy state. Without proper treatment, periodontal disease will progress. It will progress past the gingivitis stage into periodontitis. Periodontitis is not reversible like gingivitis. Remember: Once gum tissue is lost, it doesn’t grow back. The earlier you treat gum disease, the better chance you have for recovery.
To promote healing, stop all use of tobacco. Smoking or using spit tobacco reduces your ability to fight infection of your gums and delays healing. The earlier you start treating gum disease, the better your chances of being able to take care of the problem without surgery and the lower your risk of losing any teeth. So make an appointment to see your dentist today and put an end to your periodontal disease.