Scaling & Root Planing
Scaling and Root Planing Overview
For a brief narrated overview of the scaling and root planing, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about scaling and root planing.
Dr. Alvarengawill 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. Alvarenga may recommend scaling and root planing. In some cases, a local anesthesia may be used during the procedure.
- Scaling: When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.
- Root Planing: Root planing is performed in order to remove 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 may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. Some times Dr. Alvarenga prescribes an oral antibiotic (pill) and sometimes an antibiotic powder is placed into the periodontal pocket. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing. When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Dr. Alvarenga 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
If treatment is successful, scaling and planing may have many benefits. The main benefit of scaling and root planing is the reduction in pocket depth. When pockets exceed 3mm in depth, it is difficult for patient to properly remove bacterial plaque. This increases the risk that periodontal disease will increase and the pockets will get deeper. As the pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body which further damages gingival and bone tissue. This all eventually leads to tooth loss If the gums are very swollen from the periodontal infection, the scaling and root planing will help reduce that inflammation and make the pockets shallower. The patient then takes over with good brushing and flossing. This may be all that is needed. Remember that the real treatment for periodontal disease is provided by the patient and that is good brushing and flossing. Scaling and root planing may make the mouth more esthetically 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 bonus to the procedures.