The objective of scaling & root planing, or deep cleaning as it often called, is to remove plaque and tartar, the agents which cause inflammation of the gum tissue(gingivitis) and loss of bone around your teeth(periodontal disease).
Scaling and root planing are considered non-surgical procedures and work very effectively for individuals suffering from gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease.
Reasons for scaling and root planing
Scaling and root planing can be used both as a preventative measure and as a stand-alone treatment. These procedures are performed as to prevent further bone loss in patients who have periodontal disease.
Here are some reasons why scaling and root planing may be necessary:
Disease prevention – The oral bacteria which cause periodontal infections can travel via the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Research has shown that lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal bacteria. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria and halts periodontal disease from progressing, thus preventing the bacteria from traveling to other parts of the body.
Tooth protection – When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, there is a greater risk of periodontal disease. As pockets deepen, they tend to house more colonies of dangerous bacteria. Eventually, a chronic inflammatory response by the body begins to destroy gingival and bone tissue which may lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the developed world.
Aesthetic effects – Scaling and root planing help remove tartar and plaque from the teeth and below the gumline. As an added bonus, if superficial stains are present on the teeth, they will be removed in the process of the scaling and root planning procedure.
Better breath – One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis (bad breath). Food particles and bacteria can cause a persistent bad odor in the oral cavity which is alleviated with cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing.
What do scaling and root planing treatments involve?
Scaling and root planing treatments are only performed after a thorough examination of your mouth. Dr. Kend or Dr. Thunberg will take X-rays, conduct visual examinations and make a diagnosis before recommending or beginning these procedures.
Depending on the current condition of the gums, the amount of calculus (tartar) present, the depth of the pockets and the progression of the periodontitis, local anesthetic may be used.
Scaling – This procedure is usually performed with special dental instruments and may include an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool removes calculus and plaque from the surface of the crown and root surfaces.
Root Planing – This procedure is a specific treatment which serves to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed in order to promote good healing. Having clean, smooth root surfaces keeps bacteria from easily colonizing in future.
Following these deep cleaning procedures, the doctors may recommend that you be treated with either local antibiotics or systemic antibiotics. The use of antibiotics following scaling and root planning has been shown to improve pocket depth and decrease the amount of bacteria causing the periodontal disease.
During the next appointment, the doctor will thoroughly examine the gums again to see how well the pockets have healed. If the gum pockets still measure more than 3mm in depth, additional and more intensive treatments may be recommended.
If you have any concerns or questions about scaling and root planing, or periodontal disease, please ask Dr. Kend or Dr. Thunberg.