Scaling and Root Planing
Dentists strive to do everything that they possibly can to preserve the original teeth of their patients. Although there are available restorations for replacing teeth, nothing can completely match the function and appearance of a natural tooth. To that end, we provide a service called scaling and root planing for patients with periodontal disease, popularly known as gum disease.
Gum disease develops because of something called plaque. This sticky bacterial film is always developing and depositing onto the teeth, but it can be cleaned away at home when you practice proper oral hygiene, such as regularly brushing and flossing your teeth.
If plaque is not removed in a timely way, your gums can eventually become inflamed and infected. When that happens, your gums can begin receding from your teeth, causing the formation of pockets. In turn, bacteria and plaque can become trapped in those gum pockets, keeping them from being cleaned by your regular cleaning efforts at home. Left undiagnosed and untreated, gum disease eventually causes bone and tooth loss.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
When gum disease is in an early stage, it is called gingivitis. At this point, you should have experienced no damage to the structures under your gum line; so a professional dental cleaning should be enough. In cases where pockets are very deep, a scaling and root planing procedure should be performed, whenever needed, to prevent periodontitis from causing further damage and threatening the loss of the teeth.
Scaling and Root Planing
A recent study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that the scaling and root planing procedure helps those with chronic periodontitis, which affects approximately 40% of American adults over the age of thirty.
Although you may not realize it, scaling is something that you’ve already had performed at the dental office. This is what your dental hygienist does during every dental cleaning appointment to remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth.
The root planing part of the appointment is when your dentist will smooth out your tooth roots, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to adhere to their surfaces. You may be provided with anesthesia or some form of sedation before undergoing a scaling and root planing treatment.
Once you have received a scaling and root planing treatment, you can expect to have some degree of teeth sensitivity for up to one week. Your gums may be swollen and bleed some. They should be in better condition starting in a few days.
To guard against infection and control pain, your dentist may recommend that you use a special mouth rinse. They may also provide you with some type of antibiotic. This could be in the form of a pill or an antibiotic medication that is inserted directly into the cleaned pockets.
Your dentist will also want to see you periodically to monitor your progress and check the depth of your pockets. If they have gotten deeper since your last appointment, another scaling and root planing treatment may be needed.