Scaling & Root Planing
The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. The objective of this non-surgical procedure is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing may be indicated as definitive treatment or as preparation for surgical procedures.
What do the procedures entail?
Dr. Bloch will only perform scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of the mouth, which may include taking x-rays and visually examining the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Dr. Bloch may recommend scaling and root planing. In most cases, a local anesthetic will be used during the procedure.
When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the root surface beneath the gum line.
Root planing is performed in order to remove diseased cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which 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.
If deep pockets remain between teeth and gums after scaling, patients can seldom keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgical treatment may be needed to correct the damage and restore periodontal health.
Benefits of Treatment
Scaling and root planing provides many benefits. One is that it can help prevent systemic disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.
Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This leads to tooth loss.
Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra benefit to the procedures.