Scaling & Root Planing
The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or a preventative measure. They are commonly preformed on cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease.
What do the procedures entail?
Drs. Bedichek or Woody will only perform scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of the mouth, which may include taking x-rays and visually examining the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Drs. Bedichek or Woody may recommend scaling and root planing. In most cases, a local anesthesia may be used during the procedure.
When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called an ultrasonic scaling instrument. The instrument is able to kill bacteria on contact.
- Root Planing:
Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.
Antibiotics may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, we may place an antibiotic in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.
When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for us to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.
Benefits of Treatment
If treatment is successful, scaling and planing may have many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body. Scaling and root planing removes this bacteria.
Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3 mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This leads to tooth loss.
Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more esthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.