Scaling and Root Planing
Gum disease is among the most common oral health problems, and for good reason. Though good oral hygiene practices can greatly reduce the risk of gum disease, it can still occur due to other factors that have nothing to do with the state of your oral health. Some people simply inherit a tendency to get gum disease, and sometimes it can be a side effect of medications or the result of an illness. Because of this, nearly every adult experiences gum disease at least once in their lifetime, no matter how good they are at brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist regularly. Treatment for gum disease varies depending on how far it has progressed. Early treatment for the milder form of gum disease, gingivitis, often requires no more than a simple professional dental cleaning. If gum disease has advanced to its more serious stage, periodontitis, sometimes a deep cleaning procedure is necessary. This deep cleaning is called scaling and root planing.
Scaling to Remove Plaque and Tartar
Plaque is a sticky film that forms over the teeth and gums. If it is not removed, it can harden by the process of calcification. The substance that is left is called calculus, or more commonly, tartar. When you have gingivitis, plaque and tartar is present on the teeth and gums, but it has not spread below the gums. At this stage plaque and tartar can be removed with a normal cleaning procedure that involves cleaning and polishing each tooth and the gums. Periodontitis is diagnosed when plaque and tartar has spread below the gumline near the roots of the teeth. Scaling cleans each tooth and specifically targets the area below the gumline. Special dental tools are used to completely clear out plaque and tartar, and usually the area is irrigated and treated with an antibacterial agent. Scaling and root planing, sometimes called a deep cleaning, is not a surgical procedure, though it does involve work under the gums and the gums will be slightly separated from the teeth during the procedure. A local anesthetic is usually administered before the procedure begins.
Planing to Promote Healing and Prevent Reinfection
After scaling, planing is performed to smooth the surface of the tooth roots. The smoothing enables healing and the reattachment of the gums to the teeth, while at the same time, the smooth surface inhibits bacteria from thriving. An antibiotic treatment under the gums may also be performed at this time.
Success Rate of Treatment
Gum disease is a progressive disease that is more likely to be successfully reversed the earlier treatment is performed. Periodontitis can be completely reversed with scaling and root planing, but in some cases further treatment may necessary. When deep pockets form between the teeth and gums, it may not be possible for the scaling tool to completely remove plaque and tartar from these areas. In this case, gum surgery may be necessary to completely restore the teeth and gums to good health.
Gum Disease Symptoms and Prevention
Gingivitis is inevitable for most of us, but catching it early can prevent periodontitis. The first signs of gingivitis that you may notice are swollen or reddened gums, chronic bad breath or bleeding gums when you brush. You should get to the dentist as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms. It is also important to have regular dental checkups at least once, or preferably, twice a year. Dentists can often spot signs of gum disease before you will notice them yourself. When routine dental cleaning is part of your checkups, this can also help to prevent gingivitis.
Gum disease that is left to progress can cause
• Sore and bleeding gums
• Chronic bad breath
• Shifting and loose teeth
• Tooth loss
• Spread of bacteria through the bloodstream
As frightening as this all sounds, remember that preventing serious gum disease is easy by having regular dental checkups. If you would like to learn more about gum disease or if you would like to set up an appointment, call our office now.