Scaling and Root Planing Can Help Prevent Gum Disease
- Jun 7 2021
What is scaling and root planing and why would my dentist recommend it?
If your dentist has recommended that you make an appointment for scaling and root planing and you aren’t really sure what that is, your initial reaction might include a certain amount of apprehension. Most of us have heard of scaling fish, which removes the outer scales, and we know that carpenters plant wood to make it smooth, but what does either of those have to do with our teeth?
Actually, the similarity lies in the goal. Dental scaling and root planing are done to remove (scale) plaque and tartar that has built upon the surface of the teeth and smooth (plane) the surface area of the roots.
This process is basically just a deeper cleaning than what is done in your regularly scheduled cleanings with your dental hygienist. That said, it may “only” be a deep cleaning, but don’t underestimate how beneficial it can be. Scaling and root planing can prevent the development of periodontal disease, which is what we usually call gum disease.
Why the Need for Scaling and Root Planing?
Everyone has bacteria in the mouth. It’s just a fact of life. And plaque, which is the sticky film created by bacteria that feeds on the bits of carbohydrates left on the teeth after eating, is always forming on your teeth. If not adequately and consistently cleaned, the plague can build up in places that not even a regular cleaning by your dental hygienist can take care of.
Allowing plague to build up can cause inflammation in the gums. This can lead to the formation of pockets due to the gums pulling away from the teeth. Left untreated, the results can be serious gum disease, including even bone and tooth loss.
What Is Scaling and Root Planing?
Scaling and root planing is what your dentist will recommend when regular cleaning will not adequately address plaque buildup. A local anesthetic may be used during the procedure to numb the area they are cleaning and you may experience some discomfort for a couple of days following the cleaning.
Typically, there are two types of dental scaling. Both share the same goal; to remove plaque and tartar that have built up on the surface area of the teeth. One type does the scaling manually, using more traditional, hand-held tools, like scalers and curettes. The other uses an ultrasonic scaler, which chips away at the plaque and tartar with a rapidly-vibrating tip.
Root planing is done once the scaling process is completed. Using the same type of tools, the roots of the teeth will be cleaned of all plaque and tartar. Because the roots tend to have a rougher surface, it is a lot easier for bacteria to settle in and grow. Smoothing (planing) these rough spots not only removes more plaque, it also makes it much harder for bacteria to attach in the future.
No one wants to end up with gum disease or its potential consequences. Fortunately, good dental hygiene practices, regular check-ups, and cleanings, as well as procedures like scaling and root planing can go a long way in maintaining your dental health.
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Categories: General Dentistry