Scaling and root planing remove the agents that cause inflammation in the gum tissue and the surrounding bone. These agents include plaque, calculus, cementum and dentine, which contain microorganisms that cause the inflammation. This is a non-surgical procedure that helps patients suffering from gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Common reasons your dentist would recommend scaling and root planing include: Protecting your teeth - Periodontal disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in developed countries, and preventing it will help ensure a healthy smile for a long time. Gum pockets that exceed 3mm in depth are at a greater risk of periodontal disease, and pockets that deepen provide more space to house colonies of bacteria. Prevention of disease - the bacteria which cause periodontal infections can make their way through the bloodstream to other parts of the body and infect them. Research has shown that heart disease and lung infections can be linked to periodontal bacteria. The removal of bacteria during this procedure prevents it from traveling to other parts of the body. Preventing halitosis - halitosis (bad breath) is one of the most common signs of periodontal disease. Bacteria acting on food particles that get stuck in the oral cavity can cause a strong bad odor, and this is alleviated by scaling and root planing. Aesthetic reasons - The removal of tartar and plaque during scaling and root planing make the teeth look cleaner. If there are superficial stains on the teeth, they are also removed during this procedure, revealing cleaner teeth.
The scaling and root planing procedure is performed after the dentist visually examines your mouth and takes X-rays. A local anesthetic may be used in situations where the periodontitis is severe. There are two parts to the procedure:
Scaling - this part of the procedure is performed with a mechanical scaling tool and occasionally, with an ultrasonic scaling tool. It removes plaque and calculus from the root surfaces and the surface of the crown. Often, the scaling tool includes an irrigation process that delivers an antimicrobial solution that helps to reduce oral bacteria. Root planing - This part of the procedure removes cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with tartar, toxins and unhealthy microorganisms. The root of the tooth is smoothed in this process, which promotes good healing, since the smooth surfaces help prevent bacteria from easily returning to colonize the teeth.
After the two cleaning procedures, antibiotics may be used to treat the gum pockets to help soothe any irritation, as well as help the gum tissues heal more quickly. A follow up appointment will allow your dental care provider to examine the gums again to see how well the gums are doing. If the depth of the gum pockets still measure more than 3mm, your dentist may recommend additional treatment.