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What is dental scaling and root planing?

3D illustration of human teeth treatment

How can you prevent gum disease or gum inflammation through Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and Root Planing together are a combined procedure commonly used to help address the causes of Periodontitis or Gum Disease. You may have heard of this as ‘deep cleaning,’ ‘non-surgical periodontal therapy,’ or ‘conventional periodontal therapy.’

Gum Disease is an infection that causes the gums to become red, swollen, and painful. At its more advanced stages, Gum Disease can affect the structure of our mouths. The gums can detach from the individual teeth, forming pockets in the gums that lead to loose teeth or tooth loss. Gum Disease rather than Scaling and Root Planing is a vital tool in helping to disrupt the progression of Gum Disease. It is a minimally invasive procedure made up of two steps:

  • Scaling is a deep cleaning of both your exposed tooth surfaces and the pockets below your gum line, reaching deeper into your gums than through regular dental cleaning. In Teeth Scaling, your dentist will thoroughly remove the buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria causing the inflammation of your gums.
  • Root Planing may follow Teeth Scaling and involves smoothing the root surfaces of your teeth to remove any bacterial byproducts from the plaque and tartar that may have built up. Root Planing will discourage the further buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria and encourage healing and the reattachment of your gum to the tooth surfaces.

Together, Dental Scaling and Root Planing will allow your gums to once again form an effective seal for the roots of your teeth against the outside environment.

Who will need Dental Scaling? What makes a Good Candidate?

If you suffer from chronic gum disease, your dentist may recommend dental Scaling to thoroughly remove the tartar and bacteria from both the surfaces of your teeth and beneath your gums. This helps address the root causes of your inflamed gums, prevent further inflammation, and allow your gums to heal.

If your gum disease is in the earlier stages, this type of deep cleaning will likely not be necessary, and regular dental cleaning can sufficiently remove the built-up plaque and tartar so that your gum disease does not progress further.

What to expect during Scaling and Root Planing?

Before starting the procedure, your dentist may apply a localized anesthetic to your gums, but this is not always necessary. You may wish to discuss your pain tolerance with your dentist to determine if local anesthetic would be good for your personal situation.

The first step will be Teeth Scaling to remove the build of plaque, tartar, and bacteria from both the surfaces of your teeth and below your gum line in any pockets which may have formed between your individual teeth and the surrounding gum tissue. Your dentist may use some combination of manual, ultrasonic, and laser tools to complete this procedure. They will move their devices in horizontal, vertical, and circular motions along your tooth to thorough remove any buildup.

Root Planing follows Teeth Scaling and will smooth the root surfaces to discourage the further buildup of plaque and tartar along the tooth’s roots. In this procedure, the calcified film which formed on the root from the tartar will be removed. This is important because the roots of our teeth help to keep them in place. A build of bacteria and tartar on the roots inflame the gums in hard-to-reach places, which cannot be reached by twice-daily brushing, regular use of dental floss, or standard dental cleanings.

Scaling and Root Planing is an outpatient procedure and can be done at your dentist’s office. Depending on the severity of your Gum Disease and how much deep cleaning is required, more than one appointment may be needed. This allows each section of your mouth to be treated individually. Working in sections will avoid the possible inconveniences and complications that could arise from numbing your entire mouth, mainly not being able to eat or drink until the anesthetic wears off and the risks of self-injury from biting.

If you have been advised that you may need Scaling and Root Planing to address your Gum Disease contact us today to schedule a consultation. We can help you go over your options, answer any questions, and put together a treatment plan to help get you back to happy and healthy.


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