Scaling and Root Planing: Purpose and Procedure

Periodontal disease is a serious oral health concern. When left untreated, it can lead to tooth and bone loss, and research has uncovered a correlation between the inflammation associated with periodontal disease and that of other systemic problems, like heart disease and diabetes.

Because periodontal disease has such serious potential consequences, it’s important to seek treatment promptly when you are showing signs of problems with your gums.

Gum disease occurs in stages, with the mildest of those being gingivitis. Involving redness and swelling of the gums and bleeding while brushing or flossing, gingivitis often can be addressed by a professional cleaning at your dentist’s office.

As periodontal disease advances, though, a periodontist must get involved to provide specialized care. When pockets develop between the gums and the teeth, it is a telltale sign that gum disease has progressed. This symptom warrants a scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning used to treat periodontitis.

This procedure is also used to get rid of tartar buildup on the roots of the teeth.

Scaling and root planing allows the periodontist to clean between the gums and the roots of the teeth to clear away any disease-causing bacteria that may be present there. Rough patches on the roots, where those bacteria can collect, also may be filed down as part of the procedure.

The patient receives a local anesthetic before undergoing scaling and root planing, and the periodontist may place antibiotic fibers under the gums for a week to further reduce the presence of oral bacteria.

As with any dental treatment, scaling and root planing requires patients to maintain adequate aftercare, including brushing and flossing as recommended, on their own. Gum disease is very likely to return if the patient doesn’t take steps to prevent it.

If you’re showing signs of gum disease, stop it in its tracks. Consult with Dr. Garry J. Bloch, your periodontist serving Pittsburgh, to see if scaling and root planing will be an effective intervention for you. Call 412-391-3003 to schedule your visit.