Scaling and Root Planing Explained

Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning below the gumline that is used to treat gum disease.

Why Do I Need It?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth. If plaque is not removed by brushing or flossing, it can cause your gums to become inflamed. In response, your gums tend to pull away from your teeth and form pockets. These deep pockets become areas in which plaque gets easily trapped, leading to gum disease.
At home brushing and flossing cannot reverse gum disease when deep pockets have formed along your gumline. Scaling and root planing is often needed in order for your gums to be effectively cleaned and restored to health. This type of cleaning is especially beneficial for patients who suffer from chronic gum disease that has progressed past gingivitis. Up to 43% of Americans over 30 suffer from chronic periodontitis, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association.
What Happens During a Scaling and Root Planing?
As the name suggests, this procedure is divided into two parts. Scaling involves the removal of all plaque and tarter above the gumline and in the deep pockets below the gumline. Root planing involves smoothing out your teeth roots to encourage your gums to reattach to your teeth. Scaling and root planing may need multiple visits to complete, depending on your specific situation. It is common for patients to have a local anesthetic or choose sedation dentistry during their procedure.
What Can I Expect Afterwards?
You may have mild pain and soreness for a couple of days and teeth sensitivity for up to a week. It is also normal for gums to be swollen, feel tender, and bleed. You will be prescribed medication or a mouth rinse to reduce discomfort and prevent infection. Be sure to schedule a follow-up visit with your dentist as recommended. It is important that your dentist examines how your gums are healing and monitors the progress of your pocket depth.

Always practice good oral hygiene at home and avoid tobacco products to prevent the recurrence of gum disease. Remember that if you neglect gum disease treatment, it can cause bone and tooth loss. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

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