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Deep Scaling and Root Planing

What is it?
Scaling and root planing is a procedure that is used to treat gum disease, specifically periodontitis . Periodontitis is a disease affecting the gum tissue and supporting structures of the tooth (including ligaments and bone). Periodontitis can present itself chronically or in acute phases. Chronic periodontitis occurs painlessly and slowly over time. Acute periodontitis, however, is more aggressive and involves inflamed gums, bleeding, and advanced bone loss. The goal in treating all stages of gum disease is to keep teeth plaque free.

Plaque is live bacterial colonies that thrive on sugars in your diet. Plaque is tooth-colored, soft, and easily removed from teeth. Plaque is the only cause for gum disease. Other factors such as hormonal changes, rough root surfaces, grinding habits, and a depressed immune system can increase the effect plaque has on the gums. Tartar, on the other hand, is a dead, calcified version of plaque. Although tartar is not the cause of gum disease, it serves as a rough surface for plaque to adhere to. Therefore, when treating gum problems, it is necessary to remove both plaque and tartar. While plaque can be removed by the patient, tartar cannot . Professional removal of tartar involves specially designed tools, know how, and a little bit of elbow grease.

The scaling and root planing procedure is one which the hygienist concentrates on one section of the mouth at a time to thoroughly clean and smooth teeth. The procedure is done with local anesthetic to prevent any discomfort to the patient. The hygienist uses instruments similar to those used during a routine cleaning except that are designed to reach further along the tooth surface. Since plaque does not adhere well to smooth surfaces, complete removal of tartar is necessary.

Once the roots have been smoothed and cleaned, it is very important that the patient keep the teeth plaque free. Plaque continually forms on your teeth so it is a daily battle to remove it. After 24 hours, plaque dies and forms tartar that can only be removed professionally. Proper hygiene can be achieved through thorough brushing, flossing, and the use of interdental aids. However, brushing and flossing may not be enough to keep the teeth clean, especially is a lot of bone loss is present. Your hygienist can help you determine which professional cleaning interval will best suit your specific case (3, 4, or 6 months). Patients with periodontal disease are at a higher risk and should be on a more frequent recall interval. Remember, the more you do, the less we have to do!