What is Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing?
An effective and simple gum disease treatment is found within this procedure. When a problem lies beyond the gum line, scaling and root planing are essential to recovering your dental health.
Plaque - a thin layer of bacteria that coats the visible root of your teeth over time - continually accumulates as we age.
This is extremely common, especially if you aren't making regular visits to your dentist each year. This causes separation between the teeth and gums, and below them which eventually will form pockets. These pockets hide hard-to-reach plaque, which hardens and becomes harder to remove. Those pockets collect more and more plaque, and eventually, it may require professional intervention to remedy the problem.
Typically, regular and thorough brushing keeps plaque at bay. However, when these pockets become deep and the plaque becomes visible, that’s when periodontal scaling and root planing are necessary.
If ignored, infections can develop and lead to severe dental complications, including loose teeth, rotting, complete tooth loss, tissue/bone loss, and gum disease.
With close to five out of ten US citizens above age 30 affected by longterm periodontitis, and this is a very common problem. You should see a specialist if you want to avoid complications like the ones mentioned above.
Consequently, using your teeth over the course of time, aging, smoking, hormonal factors, genetic factors, medical conditions, etc., it’s vital to pay your Florida dentist a visit at least twice a year. They can help you to work out if you need to budget or change your habits to plan for or avoid any of these procedures.
The Procedural Breakdown
Dental scaling can typically be done in one of two ways.
The first method of scaling & planing encompasses the use of hand-held instruments such as the curette and dental scaler to remove plaque manually. Similar to a rake or manual lawn mower, this method is active and better for targeting tighter areas and crevices.
Your dentist will carefully feel inside the gum pockets with these tools to identify tartar build-up and manually clean out the pockets that have developed.
Alternatively, dental scaling can be carried out with ultrasonic technology.
With this method, an instrument with a vibrating metal tip peels off the tartar along the affected area.
This is accompanied by spraying water to cool the edge of the machine while removing the unhinged particles.
Similar to a buffer and power washer, the electrical option get the job done just as well. Sometimes the electric tools do an even better job of removing the junk that's built up in your gums.
You might require several appointments to complete dental scaling across your entire mouth.
The exact period of treatment heavily depends on your dentist's recommendations, your personal sensitivity and pain tolerance, and the severity of the plaque build-up.
Some dentists will divide the mouth into two sections, others, four quadrants. With each visit, your dentist will focus on a singular area, but that again varies from office to office.
At the end of dental scaling, root planing is a customary round-off process. It’s not all that different from scaling, but planing focuses on the exposed roots, smoothing them out and eliminating harmful residue to ensure holistic healing years after the procedure.
Planing is almost always on the menu, but theoretically, you can avoid this final touch and still reap the benefits of dental scaling.
Is there anything you need to worry about after your procedure?
Slight post-treatment sensitivity or pain can occur in the weeks after treatment.
This usually only lasts about 5 to 7 days. Further, it’s not unusual for your gums to feel tender and swollen.
As a result, your dentist may recommend a liquid diet or over the counter medication.
Additionally, prescription pills should cushion these effects. Typically, your dentist will also schedule a progress checkup to determine if any further treatment is necessary.
Like with any procedure, further treatment may be necessary. Especially in the rare cases where a dentist discovers another problem that requires treatment. Like with any procedure, you might experience swelling, bleeding, or side effects from the medication.
Is scaling and root planing painful?
Not at all. If your gums are especially sensitive, your Miami dentist might recommend an anesthetic to ensure you are comfortable.
Anesthesia isn't always necessary, but it can make things more bearable. Anesthetics can run up the tab, so if your insurance doesn't cover it, it's best to just muscle through it. Sometimes a dentist might split the procedure between visits to limit the time spent in the operating chair and resultant pain.
Your dentist might also want you to avoid taking medications beforehand, eating, or drinking. However, this is case by case and there are no standard pre-op instructions. Every case is unique.
How to know you need a periodontal scaling and root planning
If you have healthy gums, evidenced by teeth glued to tight-fitting tissue, then you should have no plaque problems. If this sounds like you, consistent brushing should keep your teeth in great condition.
However, if those tissues become loose, and they begin to dip below the gums, then you might have a problem on your hands. It could be wear and tear, or it could be gum disease. Either way, a checkup is in order when this occurs. To be exact, when these tissues begin to dip by more than 4 millimeters, it's time to go for a checkup.
Other red flags include:
- bite changes,
- teeth shifting,
- swollen gums,
- or aching gums.
If you've had dental scaling and root planing, or another procedure like teeth whitening, then these may just be temporary side effects. To best diagnose if you need a periodontal scaling and root planing, get in touch with a good local dentist.
There's nothing wrong with going in for a professional examination.