What is Scaling and Root Planing?
Scaling and root planing or a “deep cleaning” is a procedure where the teeth and roots are cleaned below the gums. Oftentimes, plaque and calculus accumulates below the gums and causes periodontal or gum disease. If left untreated, the plaque and calculus cause inflammation in the gums and leads to bone loss which can eventually lead to tooth loss. Scaling and root planing allows cleaning of the roots of the teeth so your gums can re-attach to the teeth.
Why do I Need a Scaling and Root Planing?
Periodontal disease and gingivitis are chronic infections that develop over time. Harmful bacteria can grow below the gums and cause destruction within the bone and gums around teeth.
With the build-up plaque and minimal calculus, the gums start to get inflamed and start to bleed while brushing. The initial stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. However, if gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into the destructive periodontal disease. Periodontal disease causes bone loss which can lead to loose teeth and eventually tooth loss. The goal of scaling and root planing is to decrease the inflammation in the gums, remove calculus and tartar around the teeth, and stop the progression of bone loss.
Regular dental cleanings are often not enough to clean teeth with gingivitis and periodontal disease. Successful deep cleaning of these areas is accomplished through non-surgical periodontal treatment, including scaling and root planing. This procedure includes cleaning the root surfaces below the gums in order to remove plaque and calculus build-up from deep periodontal pockets to remove harmful bacteria to leave a smooth, clean surface that promotes healthy gums. The gum disease procedure is completed by numbing the gums and using an ultrasonic machine and hand instruments to reach the depths of gum pockets. Ultrasonic dental instruments are used to effectively clean your teeth and the root surfaces below the gums. The ultrasonic instrument vibrates quickly to knock off the calculus and tartar from the teeth without damaging the teeth. Water also comes out of the instrument to rinse away the debris from the teeth. Oftentimes, an antibacterial solution is added to the water source for the instrument to provide localized medicaments deep below the gums to remove the harmful bacteria deep in the gum pockets.
Sometimes systemic or localized antibiotics are indicated to help control the infection. This will be determined by you periodontist at PerioLife. The teeth can become sensitive afterwards as the teeth are now more exposed once all of the calculus and tartar is removed. We have developed special treatments to treat the sensitivity so that you are comfortable very soon after your treatment. You should avoid eating hard or sticky foods for the first couple of days after treatment.
A re-evaluation is completed 4-6 weeks after treatment to assess the reattachment of the gums. The amount of reattachment after treatment greatly depends on your oral care routine at home. Using an electric toothbrush to brush twice a day and flossing daily can help reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth.