Most of us are aware of the importance of regular dental care appointments to maintain our oral – and overall – health. These appointments involve dental services and checkups to help maintain healthy gums and teeth and are usually recommended every six months.
Regular dental appointments, in addition to maintaining good dental and oral health, help diagnose and treat early gum disease. Your dentist may recommend tooth scaling and root planing if you have inflamed gums – but what are these, and how do you know if you need them? This guide covers those answers and more.
Gum Disease and Why You Need Scaling and Root Planing
Gum tissue should fit tightly around each tooth for a healthy dental structure. Bacterial plaque and tartar, however, may accumulate around and under your gums, causing inflammation that, if left untreated, can develop into gum disease.
Gum disease, medically known as periodontitis, occurs when bacteria in plaque and tartar cause gum to pull away from your teeth. The pulling away of the gum causes pockets to form around your teeth, creating room for more bacteria and other oral microbes to grow.
Microbe gaps affect your teeth and the supporting bone in your mouth and could lead to bone and tissue loss, moving teeth, loose teeth, or tooth loss. Scaling and root planing are needed if the pockets are too deep for a simple brush cleaning.
What Are Scaling and Root Planing?
Dental scaling involves removing plaque, tartar, and biofilm from the tooth surface. Most scaling occurs along the gum line, where bacteria buildup has caused gum inflammation and tooth decay.
Root planing follows the scaling. It involves scraping the part of the tooth that sits beneath the gum line. Root planing also aims to smooth out teeth roots and correct the roughness created by bacteria.
Scaling and root planing help your gum tissues reattach to the tooth and prevent future bacterial buildup. The procedure is more effective for early active periodontitis when you’re experiencing gum inflammation and bleeding.
Scaling and Root Planing Procedure
Scaling and root planing are separate dental procedures that are undertaken together to treat gum disease. The entire process will involve the following steps.
Step 1: Mouth Numbing
Periodontal scaling and root planing is a deep procedure that can be uncomfortable and even painful. Your dentist will need to administer local anesthesia that numbs your mouth to minimize any pain or discomfort.
Step 2: Scaling and Root Planing
The second step after numbing the mouth is the removal of plaque, tartar (calculus), and microbial biofilm from above and below your gum line. Attention to detail is crucial during the procedure. Your dentist can use either or both of the following ways to perform scaling and root planing:
- Hand-held instruments: The dentist uses a scaler and curette and manually scales the plaque from the teeth. The dentist touches the gum to identify rough spots and areas of plaque buildup because they can’t see the plaque beneath the gums. The dentist then inserts this thin tool beneath the gumline to access and remove the plaque.
- Use of ultrasonic instruments: The instruments have a vibrating metal tip with a cool water spray. The tip chips off tartar as the water flush it out of the pocket while keeping the tip cool.
There’s no significant difference in effectiveness between hand-held instruments and ultrasonic scalers. Recent research indicates that, although the latter may be faster, “There is no difference between the response of the systemic inflammatory response after a full debridement using hand or ultrasonic instruments.”
Step 3: Mouth Flushing
Your dentist may irrigate or swish your mouth with an antibacterial solution, such as chlorhexidine, to further cleanse the treated area after scaling and root planing. This also helps prevent cold sores and mouth chapping post-operation.
Step 4: Placing of Antibiotics
Site-specific antibiotics may then be placed in the periodontal pocket to accelerate the healing of infected gum tissues. These antibiotics are placed right into the pockets and drip slowly over time.
This procedure is also called deep cleaning and could take multiple sessions, one for each quarter or half of your mouth. This is because your dental health provider wants to ensure you are adequately numbed in only the necessary tooth or gum area during treatment since numbing your entire mouth could cause trouble chewing, drinking, swallowing, and talking.
Deep cleaning may cause pain and teeth sensitivity for several days after treatment. Your dental professional might prescribe some pills to control the situation.
These procedures, though effective and necessary for your oral health, can be complex and should be administered by a dental professional – dentists, periodontists, or dental hygienists.
Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing
There are many benefits associated with scaling and root planing. Some of the key benefits include:
1. Reduced Risk of Periodontitis Progressing
Periodontitis is a progressive disease, meaning the condition will worsen if not treated. The long-term effects include irreversible mouth infections, receding gums, teeth loss, and heart diseases. Scaling and root planing, when started early, will help prevent them from progressing.
2. Improved Oral Health
Oral health is the health of teeth, gums, jaw bones, and the entire oral system that allows us to chew, speak, smile, and speak effortlessly. Teeth and gums with accumulated plaque on the teeth and gums can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as bad breath.
3. Overall Health
The gum disease-causing bacteria can enter your bloodstream and spread across your body, affecting other organs. Gum disease has even been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
4. Stunning Smile
Gum disease makes your gums look swollen and sore, and your teeth may also look longer as the gums pull away from them. The scaling and root planing procedure removes and eliminates unsightly plaque to give you a stunning smile.
Choosing a team to work with for scaling and root planing is as important as the procedure itself. The dentists and dental specialists at The Dental Team have years of experience in dental care, including scaling and root planing.
Secure Your Dental Health
Our team is happy to sit down with you during a consultation to discuss your options and help you choose the one that will work best for you. Visit us at one of our many locations across Ontario or contact The Dental Team today, and we will be happy to help you.