- by Dr. Karanjit Dhillon
- August 31, 2022
Tooth Scaling and Root Planing- An Introduction
Teeth Scaling and Root Planing are more in-depth dental procedures than regular teeth cleaning, that help to treat gum disease/periodontitis and excessive plaque buildup.
Scaling is a dental procedure that helps to remove plaque buildup by reaching below the gum line.
Teeth Scaling and Root Planing are usually recommended together by dentists and both these procedures are in a common language known as “deep cleaning“. More than one dental visit is usually needed for the procedure.
A local anesthetic may also sometimes be required depending on the extent of the chronic periodontal disease or if the patient has receding gums.
Why and When Are Teeth Scaling and Root Planing Needed?
The dentist recommends teeth scaling and root planing for patients with symptoms of chronic periodontal disease.
The procedure can help to prevent the harmful effects of the disease, at the same time preserving the health of the mouth.
Gum disease is caused by the continuously forming plaque on the teeth, causing severe infection or inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth.
The buildup of bacteria on the teeth can turn into tartar or dental calculus. The bacteria in plaque makes the gums pull away from the teeth, creating large pockets between the teeth and gums leading to chronic periodontal disease.
An untreated chronic periodontal disease can lead to:
- Reddening, bulging & bleeding of gums
- Bone and tissue loss
- Loss of teeth
- Loosening of teeth
- Moving teeth
Usually affecting many adults over the age of 30, some of the reasons that lead to the development of chronic periodontal disease are:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Smoking and use of tobacco
- Age & hormonal changes
- A few medical conditions
It is important to remember that the prevention of gum disease is possible with proper care of the teeth and gum care plus regular dental visits. Flossing regularly is extremely important to reach the spots in the mouth that toothbrushes can’t.
However, the dental professionals at Morgan Hill Dentistry explain that the pockets of 4 millimeters or more can only be treated with a dental scaling to get rid of the plaque beneath the gum line.
Teeth scaling and root planing are outpatient procedures that should be strictly performed by an expert and trained dental professional in a well-equipped clinic.
The procedure may need more than one appointment, based on how bad the condition of the teeth and gums is.
At Morgan Hill Dentistry, our team of expert dentists performs the procedure with utmost expertise and care, ensuring the full comfort of our patients. The procedure usually involves the following steps:
- The area is numbed, using a local anesthetic in more severe cases to reduce the discomfort of the procedure.
- The plaque and tartar are scraped from the teeth and from below the gum line from large pockets if any between the teeth and gums. This process is called teeth scaling.
- Root planing is the next step in the procedure where the dentist, with the help of a scaling tool, planes or smooths out the rough surfaces on the roots of the teeth, allowing the gums to reattach to the teeth.
However, it is imperative to mention here that some patients may need extra treatment based on the health of the teeth and gums.
The dentist may then recommend some antimicrobial agents to be used or prescribe oral antibiotics for a few days to make sure that the healing is proper and fast.
Periodontal scaling and root planing may take more than one dental visit depending on the condition of the teeth and a post-procedure checkup may also be needed afterward.
The scaling of teeth is usually done using one of the two basic methods:
- The procedure can be performed with traditional handheld thin metal tools like a scalar and a curette, which are inserted beneath the gum line to reach the plaque not accessible by the toothbrush
- In another method, the dentist scales the teeth using an ultrasonic device which includes a vibrating metal tip incorporated with a cool water spray. The tip of the tool chips away the tartar while the water flushes out the debris from the pocket.
What Happens After the Procedure?
After the treatment of Teeth scaling and root planing is over, a follow-up appointment is usually recommended by the dentist to make sure that the procedure has been successful and to rule out any complications like an infection.
The patients are also asked to come back if their gum pockets do not shrink with the procedure.
Our dental specialists advise that one must resume normal oral care procedures and maintain good oral hygiene after the procedure of teeth scaling and root planing which includes:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily.
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious diet and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings to prevent the recurrence of the problem
The periodontal maintenance cleaning schedule recommended by the dentist depends on the condition of the patient’s teeth. Whereas some patients are advised regular cleanings every three to four months, others can be asked to get standard cleanings every six months.
Benefits of Teeth Scaling and Root Planing
The gold standard treatment for chronic periodontal or gum disease, teeth scaling and root planing help to improve the pocket gap between teeth and gums.
The risk of tooth, bone, and tissue loss linked with chronic periodontal disease can be lessened by reducing the pockets that develop between the teeth and gums.
Risks of the Treatment
The procedure of teeth scaling and root planing usually carries minimal risk. However, there may be some risk of infection following the procedure but it can be easily managed with an antibiotic or a special mouthwash prescribed by your dentist for a few days or weeks after the procedure.
In an extremely rare complication, harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream during dental scaling and root planing leading to bacteremia or blood infection. A mouth rinse or antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection in this case.
You may experience some pain and sensitivity in the teeth for a few days. Some bleeding, swelling, discomfort, or tenderness of the gums right after the treatment may also be experienced in some cases.
Our team at Morgan Hill Dentistry has been performing the procedure with great expertise and the patients usually experience no drastic complications afterward.
However, we advise our patients to contact us immediately if they experience any of these:
- Pain that worsens
- Healing that is below expectation
It helps to remember that any side effects of the procedure usually go away within a few weeks.
Tooth scaling and root planing are extremely common outpatient dental treatments to treat chronic periodontal disease in patients which can be carried on with or without local anesthesia.
Dental scaling should be scheduled on time and as and when your dentist recommends it. This can go a long way to fight unseen plaque and tartar, at the same time maintaining a clean mouth.
Our team at Morgan Hill Dentistry is committed to preserving your oral health while ensuring your comfort too.
All the pros, cons, and precautions are discussed with the patients beforehand to allow them to make an informed decision and follow an optimal aftercare routine.