In some ways, it can seem like it’s a never-ending battle to keep your teeth and gums clean. You brush and floss, but still more plaque forms. You visit a dentist for a checkup and cleaning, they remove the plaque and tartar, but then it just comes back. While regular cleaning can often be enough to keep plaque from doing damage to your gums and teeth, there are times when the buildup is just enough to cause inflammation of the gums, triggering the earliest form of gum disease–gingivitis.
In some instances, a regular in-office cleaning might not be sufficient to treat the symptoms of gum disease. If that’s the case, your dentist might recommend a treatment known as scaling and root planing.
>Why Might You Need Scaling and Root Planing?
During a typical checkup, a dentist, hygienist or periodontist will inspect your gums, looking for signs of inflammation. They might also use a small probe to measure the depths of periodontal pockets, or the space between the gum tissue and the tooth. When all is well, periodontal pockets usually measure less than 3 mm in depth. Deeper pockets can mean that the gums have started to pull away from the teeth, increasing the risk for a more advanced form of gum disease.
If you have more than a couple of teeth with deep periodontal pockets, your dentist or hygienist is likely to recommend scaling and root planing to deep clean the area and help the gum tissue shrink back around the teeth.
The Scaling and Root Planing Procedure
Depending on how often you visit the dentist, you might be very familiar with the first part of the scaling and root planing procedure. Scaling simply means that the dentist will remove the plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth, from just below the gum line and from the periodontal pockets. The dentist will use either a manual tool or an ultrasonic device to deep clean the teeth and gums.
The next step is root planing, which creates a smooth surface on the roots of your teeth. During this part of the treatment, the dentist will use a tool that smooths the teeth, making it more difficult for plaque to develop beneath the gum line. Root planing also helps the gums to reattach to the teeth.
After Scaling and Root Planing
It’s common for the gums to feel a bit sensitive after a scaling and root planing treatment. You might notice that your gums are swollen and bleed easily for about a week after the treatment. The tools the dentist uses can influence the degree of swelling and bleeding you have. Usually, ultrasonic tools result in less post-treatment discomfort than manual tools.
To further the benefits of scaling and root planing, and as an extra protection against infection, your dentist might prescribe an antibiotic or recommend that you use an antibacterial mouthwash for a few weeks after the procedure. Usually, you’ll see your dentist again for a follow-up to make sure the treatment was effective.
For some patients, scaling and root planing is sufficient treatment for gum disease. All they need to do is keep up or start up a good oral care routine at home and to continue to see their dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
Learn More About Scaling and Root Planing
If you are concerned about the state of your teeth and gums and think you might have gum disease, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a periodontist as soon as possible. In the Miami area, Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist who offers patients a number of different traditional and cutting-edge treatments for gum disease. He can evaluate your teeth and gums and let you know if scaling and root planing or another gum disease treatment is right for you. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.