What is scaling and root planing?

When people have excessive amounts of dental plaque and gum disease, dental scaling and root planing dayton oh is a common solution. Professional dental cleaning removes plaque from the surfaces of the teeth, but dental scaling and root planing are more of a deep-cleaning procedure for the mouth. Scaling, which is routinely used for patients with gum disease, removes plaque that has accumulated below the gumline. Plaque buildup on the teeth is normal. Saliva mixed with bacteria and proteins covers your teeth in a thin layer nearly all the time. When you eat, this thin layer of film on your teeth combines with tiny bits of food, sugars, and acids, which then form plaque. Brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings can help manage the buildup of plaque, staving off its proliferation, but, if left unaddressed, the bacteria that live in plaque can accumulate and cause tooth decay and gum disease.

When a person has healthy gums, their gum tissue fits snugly around their teeth, keeping plaque out. If gum disease begins to form, however, the gum tissue loosens, forming pockets between the gums and teeth that can fill with plaque. This further irritates the gums, increasing the presence of disease and causing unpleasant symptoms like bad breath. If you have deepening dental pockets, measured at 4 millimeters or more, you may be a good candidate for dental scaling, which will remove the plaque below your gumline, helping to treat the gum disease and also reducing the chances of disease progression. Dentists usually use one of two basic methods for dental scaling: handheld instruments, or ultrasonic equipment. With handheld instruments, your dentist will manually scrape plaque from the teeth and gumline using an instrument called a dental scaler. The incredibly thin tip of a dental scaler can fit beneath the gumline to reach plaque that can’t be removed with a toothbrush. If your dentist uses ultrasonic equipment for scaling, they will use a tool that has a tip that quickly vibrates, combined with a spray of cool water. The vibrating tip chips away at plaque and tartar, or hardened plaque, and the water flushes debris from the dental pocket.

Most dental scaling procedures are followed with a procedure called root planing. Root planing cleans the surface of the tooth’s root, smoothing it so that the gums can successfully readhere to the root. This procedure is similar to scaling and uses handheld instruments. Dental scaling and root planing can be uncomfortable, and people with sensitive gums often find them to be more uncomfortable. You may be offered a local anesthetic to numb the tissue of the gums and help make the treatment more comfortable. If you’re concerned about pain in a dental scaling and root planing procedure, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist for information about your anesthesia options. Many dentists prefer to divide a dental scaling and root planing procedure into multiple office visits, usually dividing the mouth into quadrants and addressing one quadrant at a time, though some dentists divide the mouth in half and complete the procedure with two visits. If you’re anxious about the dental scaling and root planing process, ask your dentist if you might have the entire procedure performed in a single visit. This may not be an option in all cases, but, if your gum disease is relatively moderate and you’re comfortable sitting for a lengthy dental procedure, it may be a good option for you.

Following a dental scaling and root planing procedure, your mouth may be sensitive or sore. In some cases, the gums swell or bleed for a few days after a dental scaling and root planing treatment. If you find yourself uncomfortable or sore following a procedure, ask your dentist to recommend a desensitizing toothpaste. You may also be given a prescription mouthwash following a dental deep cleaning, to help maintain the freshly cleaned pockets and gums. Proper brushing and flossing habits and techniques are imperative following a dental deep cleaning, to help stop plaque from forming in the newly cleaned areas.

After your dental scaling and root planing procedure is complete, you will be expected to attend a follow-up visit, wherein your dentist can examine your gums, measure your gum pockets, and monitor your mouth’s healing. If the pockets in your gums have deepened since your deep cleaning, you may want to discuss additional options for treatment, which can allow you to maintain a healthy smile. Nearly 50% of adults in the US have gum disease, and dental scaling and root planing are very common treatments for this common disease. If your dentist suggests that you have a dental deep cleaning procedure, dental scaling and root planing are tried-and-true treatments to help you maintain a cleaner, healthier mouth.

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