Scaling and root planing is one of the most conservative and effective procedures to treat periodontal disease before it progresses further. Scaling is the removal of calculus (also called tartar) and plaque that adhere to the surfaces of teeth. Scaling and root planing cleans between the gums and the teeth along the surfaces of the roots. Scaling and root planing specifically targets the areas below the gum line (along the root).
Scaling and root planing are often referred to as a deep cleaning. Scaling involves removal of built up plaque at the gum line using either hand instruments or an ultrasonic cleaning tool (the vibrations allow for break up of the tartar and plaque). During root planing, your dentist or hygienist will be gently cleaning the roots of your teeth, and removing any irregular or rough spots along the roots of your teeth. These irregular or rough spots tend to be a trap for bacteria and plaque. Plaque is far more likely to stick to rougher surfaces. As the bacteria builds up in the form of plaque it creates a sticky surface for even more bacteria to build up. The root surface is made smooth in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining tartar and smooths irregular areas along the root surface. This procedure is usually performed under 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 prior to beginning the procedure. Local anesthetic will prevent you from feeling discomfort during the procedure.
It usually takes multiple visits 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 far your periodontal disease has progressed and your personal dental hygiene habits. It generally takes a minimum of two visits to finish the scaling and root planing procedure. You will schedule your follow up appointments about 1-2 weeks apart from one another. It will also be recommended that you schedule more frequent cleanings (every 3-4 months) after scaling and root planing to help prevent the periodontal disease from ever progressing again.
Why is Scaling and Root Planing necessary?
Scaling and root planing actually helps gums heal. The gum tissues will have an easier time reattaching itself to a smoother root surface than a rough, irregular one. The smoother surface also helps keep dental plaque from attacking the tooth’s root surface. This makes it far easier to maintain the gingival 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 initial form of periodontal disease).
Following Scaling and Root Planing Treatment - What to Expect?
Once the scaling and root planing is completed, oral hygiene preventive care is necessary to keep your gums healthy. Periodontal disease can not be cured but it can be held at bay with proper oral hygiene techniques. Tooth 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 to a minimum. 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.
Scaling and Root Planing - What are the Risks?
Scaling and root planing can introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream through the procedure. 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 based on your health history. 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 artificial body parts, such as an artificial hip or heart valve.
A simple, conservative procedure like scaling and root planing can reduce the effects of periodontal disease 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. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is not reversible. Once gum tissue is lost, it does not grow back. The earlier you treat periodontal disease, the better chance you have for recovery. To promote healing, stop all use of tobacco. Smoking or using spit tobacco will decrease your ability to fight off 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 any tooth loss. So make an appointment to see your dentist today and put an end to your periodontal disease.