Scaling And Root Planing Procedures: How They Work And What To Expect

By August 1, 2016Preventative Dentistry
Scaling and root procedures and how they work.

Often referred to as deep cleaning, scaling and root planing procedures are considered the best treatments for slowing and even reversing the progression of severe periodontal disease. These procedures are a bit more intensive than the regular cleanings that are performed by the hygienist as part of routine, preventative dental care. Following is everything you need to know about scaling and root planing along with the impressive benefits that be gained from this common, non-surgical treatment.

When Is Scaling And Root Planing Necessary?

Routine cleanings should performed twice yearly to prevent the development of gum disease. Even the most diligent efforts in brushing and flossing may not be enough to prevent problems like gingivitis and advanced periodontists on their own. When the gums begin to show signs of inflammation and bleeding or if these tissues start receding, scaling and root planing procedures could be essential for protecting the underlying bone, preventing eventual tooth loss and staving off potentially systemic infections.

Slowing And Reversing The Advance Of Periodontal Disease

When the gum tissues are healthy, they fit securely around each tooth structure. If tartar and plaque are allowed to accumulate under the gums and at the gum-line, however, the tissues that support the natural tooth structures will begin to draw back in search of a smooth, clean and bacteria-free surface. This in turn leaves the soft dentin of the tooth vulnerable and exposed.

As periodontists advances, deep pockets can additionally form within the gums. People who have periodontal disease often exhibit symptoms such as significant plaque and tartar build-up, foul-smelling breath and pocket depths that exceed 4 mm. When this is the case, root scaling and planing can be performed to remove bacterial plaque and tartar so that the gum tissues have the best opportunity to firmly reattach to the tooth and heal.

What To Expect During Your Scaling And Root Planing Procedure

Your scaling and root planing procedure can be performed by either your dentist or the dental hygienist. Depending upon the conditions of your gums and the amount of tartar and plaque that has accumulated, this treatment may require more than one office visit. Fortunately, you will be given a local anesthetic during each appointment in order to limit your discomfort throughout the treatment process.

During your procedure, your provider will thoroughly scale all tartar deposits, bacterial toxins and built-up plaque from the surfaces of the teeth and roots, while taking special care to eliminate particulates and tartar at and around the gum line. Scaling is commonly performed with a small, hand-held, metal tool. When a hand-held tool is used, your provider will rely on touch to help him or her identify substances that must be cleared away. It is also possible to perform scaling with an ultrasonic tool. Ultrasonic tools have a special, vibrating tip that chips built-up and trapped materials off of the tooth structures. Once scaling is complete, the surfaces of your tooth roots will undergo planing. This is a process that cleans and smooths the root surfaces so that tartar, bacteria and plaque do not have the opportunity to re-adhere to the teeth below the gum-line.

Taking Care Of Your Gums And Teeth After Scaling And Root Planing

Follow-up is key for ensuring lasting success with these treatments. Several weeks after your scaling and root planing procedure has been performed, your provider will check your teeth and gums to ensure that proper healing across the treated areas has occurred. A successful treatment will leave the gums bright pink, healthy and firm, which is often a far cry from the red, swollen tissues that many people have pre-treatment. If the gum tissues appear both healthy and stable, future treatments may be unnecessary. If continued signs of gum sensitivity, bleeding and inflammation persist, however, another scaling and root planing procedure will be scheduled.

The Long-Term Benefits Of These Procedures

Untreated gum disease can have a significant impact on overall human health. Trapped bacteria and plaque can lead to tooth and bone infections that eventually become systemic. When this occurs, harmful organisms make their way into the circulatory system where they will increase the risk of heart disease and many other serious health issues. Untreated gum disease can also lead to tooth loss, bone density loss and problems that limit the feasibility of future, corrective and cosmetic dental treatments. Scaling and root planing procedures can help you avoid these problems. They can also limit or even eliminate the need for more invasive forms of gum disease treatment.

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