Scaling and Root Planing
The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning called a “deep cleaning” or by your insurance company “scaling and root planing”. The objective of this non-surgical procedure is to remove causative agents such as dental plaque and tartar which cause a local infection in your gum tissue. Scaling and root planing is preformed for the treatment of mild to severe periodontitits.
What is scaling and root planing?
Scaling and root planing will be treatment planned only after a thorough examination of the mouth, which may include x-rays and a dental exam of the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, scaling and root planing may be indicated. Local anesthesia will be used during the procedure, for your comfort.
Scaling and root planing is performed in order to remove the calculus and plaque that is attached to the tooth and root surfaces. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root, where the bacteria and thus the infection is harbored. A special ultrasonic scaling instrument that uses sound waves, may be used along with traditional scalers used to clean teeth.
Root planing is performed along the roots, underneath the gum tissue, in order to remove infected cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. This promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.
Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, local antibiotic may be placed in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.
When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.
Benefits of Treatment
Treatment with scaling and planing may have many benefits. One is that it eliminates the bacteria causing infection of the gums and elsewhere in the body. There is strong evidence that suggests that Periodontitis provides an increased risk for future cardiovascular disease . Evidence suggests a relationship between periodontitis and other systemic diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive impairment, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer. However, additional studies are needed. Scientists are exploring this connection between treatment of periodontitis and improved health outcomes.
Of course, treatment is aimed at protecting against bone loss and thus, tooth loss. Scaling and root planing also reduces bad breath and removes unsightly tartar and stain.