If your dental hygienist cleans your teeth every six months , you know that a routine professional cleaning involves scaling teeth and around the gumline to remove plaque and tartar, and polishing to remove stains and smooth the tooth’s surface. This is done to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you have symptoms of gum disease, however, you may need another type of cleaning, called scaling and root planing.
When Is Scaling and Root Planing Recommended?
Although routine cleanings are done to prevent periodontal (gum) disease, scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure done to treat periodontal disease. In fact, this procedure – sometimes called a deep cleaning – is considered the “gold standard” of treatment for patients with chronic periodontitis.
Healthy gum tissue fits tightly around each tooth, and the the measurement from the top of the gumline to where it attaches to the tooth should only be 1 to 3 millimeters in depth. But, when bacterial plaque and tartar accumulate around and under the gums, tissues that support your teeth may be affected and periodontal disease can develop causing deeper pockets to form.
When you have more advanced signs of gum disease (bad breath, heavy tartar buildup and unhealthy pocket depths of 4mm or more), your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing as the first procedure necessary to treat the condition.The Dental Hygienist can undertake this treatment and arrange a follow up appointment to assess if things have improved.
The procedure involves thoroughly scaling all plaque, bacterial toxins and tartar deposits from your teeth and root surfaces; and then root planing, which smooths all rough areas on your roots’ surfaces.If this feels uncomfortable,our Hygienist can administer some Local Anaesthetic to help. Smooth root surfaces keep bacteria, plaque and tartar from re-adhering underneath the gumline, allowing your gums to heal and reattach themselves more firmly.
After the Procedure
At a follow-up visit, your dentist/hygienist will want to check on the healing of your gums and the status of your pockets. The good news is that in most cases, red or swollen gum tissue becomes firm and pink again, bleeding is reduced or eliminated and pockets get smaller. If your gum tissue has responded well and remains stable, you may not need any further treatment.
More advanced periodontal conditions, on the other hand, may require surgical interventions by a periodontist after root planing and scaling to stop the progression of bone loss. However, your scaling and root planing treatment often lessens the amount of surgery you need.