SCALING AND ROOT PLANING
Scaling and root planing is the procedure used to treat active periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. This type of cleaning is more than a routine 6 month cleaning. Scaling and root planing is the process of removing bacteria, plaque and calculus from above and below the gumline. When bacteria is not removed properly, infection can occur that causes bleeding, red irritated gums, receding or loose gums, exudate (or pus) and halitosis (bad breath).
Inflammation due to the infection causes the gum tissue to swell resulting in open spaces between the tooth and gum, called a periodontal pocket. With time, plaque and calculus build up begin to accumulate below the gumline on the root surfaces and will remain in the pocket until you have your teeth cleaned by a dental professional. There is currently no home care tool that reaches deep into these pockets and is strong enough to remove the cement-like build up. As long as the plaque and tartar build up is below your gumline, your body will have active infection and slowly destroy the supporting bone structures around your teeth.
Scaling and root planing is a procedure to not only remove the bacteria and build up on the tooth structure, but also to plane or smooth the root surfaces to prevent reattachment of bacteria. We break up this procedure into three appointments. The first two appointments are the deep cleaning procedures where we focus on one side of the mouth at a time (right and left sides of the mouth). At this appointment, your dental hygienist can use local anesthesia for your comfort so that we are fully able to remove the bacteria. The final appointment is a one month follow up, or fine scale, where we evaluate the tissue to check on healing and to remove any remaining grainy pieces of build up.
Typically after scaling and root planing, periodontal maintenance cleaning appointments are recommended every three to four months to maintain the health of the remaining bone and prevent any future infections. Once you have periodontal disease, you will always have it. The idea of scaling and root planing followed with frequent periodontal maintenance and good home care is to keep the disease at bay and prevent active infection and further bone loss.