If you have gum disease, you have likely been told by your dentist that it can impact your smile and overall health. Unfortunately, gum disease is quite common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. When not treated, gum disease can lead to infection in the soft tissues that surround your teeth. This can lead to bone loss in the jaw. To prevent gum disease from worsening, your dentist may suggest tooth scaling and root planing therapy.

What is scaling and root planing?

Sometimes referred to as “deep cleaning,” scaling and root planing is the removal of dental plaque and calculus. When the scaling or removal is completed, the root surfaces are smoothed, otherwise known as planing, removing cementum or dentine full of calculus, toxins, or micro-organisms that lead to inflammation. Many patients with gum disease prefer scaling and planing as it is a part of non-surgical periodontal therapy.

However, many patients don’t understand the difference between scaling and root planing and regular dental cleaning. Patients need to realize that regular dental cleanings, such as those conducted during your visit to the dentist every six months, are done to maintain the cleanliness of the teeth and gums. But, the tartar that is removed in a typical dental cleaning isn’t quite as invasive as that tartar that is removed during scaling and planing therapy.

If you’re wondering how long a scaling and root planing takes, you should know that therapy is generally completed within one to four visits, depending on the extent of your condition. You may also be wondering if scaling and root planing is painful. Patients with sensitive gums sometimes find that scaling and root planing therapy is mildly uncomfortable, however, Dr. Bentz uses an anesthetic to make your gums numb and reduce discomfort.

Who needs scaling?

Regular dental cleanings are critical for all patients, and should occur every six months. But scaling and root planing therapy are necessary for patients who have gaps between their gums and teeth that a dentist can’t get to in a typical dental cleaning. Plaque gets trapped in these gaps, and brushing twice a day and flossing once a day isn’t enough to remove it either. When these gaps are left untreated, patients can experience bone and tooth loss, thus, patients with these gaps who have gum disease are candidates for dental scaling and root planing.

The benefits of scaling and root planing for gum disease.

If your dentist has suggested root planing and scaling to cure your gum disease, you will experience many benefits from this therapy.

  • Root planing and scaling is non-surgical and may be the only treatment necessary.
  • Gum tenderness and chronic inflammation will be alleviated after the bacteria and plaque are removed.
  • You will have fresher breath.
  • Your wide periodontal pockets caused by the infection will heal and reattach to your teeth, allowing your gum tissue to fit snugly around your tooth, providing a barrier to decay.
  • Root planing and scaling is a highly effective treatment for gum disease.

Aftercare tips for scaling and root planing therapy.

As with any procedure, there can be risks and it is no different for tooth scaling and root planing. This type of therapy can introduce harmful bacteria into your bloodstream. Your gum tissue is also at increased risk of infection while it heals from the procedure. Dr. Bentz will prescribe antibiotics before and after surgery for patients with a high risk for severe infection or if an infection would be particularly dangerous based on their pre-existing medical conditions. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for patients with heart problems, an impaired immune system, or for anyone who has had major surgery recently.

The great news is that if you maintain good dental care after your therapy is completed, the progression of gum disease should stop. Your gums will heal and become firm and pink again. Patients should brush and floss regularly afterward, as without proper dental care at home, your gum disease may progress. Further, it is highly recommended that patients stop all use of tobacco, as smoking or using spit tobacco reduces your ability to fight infection in the gums and delays healing.

It is also important to know that if anesthesia is used during your scaling and root planing therapy, your mouth may remain numb for a few hours. Finally, if you have dental implants, periodontitis will not affect the implant itself, but can affect the surrounding teeth, gums and jaw. Thus, scaling and planing are still used for those who have dental implants.

Chat with the Bentz Dental team to learn how tooth scaling and root planing can cure your gum disease.

If you have gum disease, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do to prevent the illness from worsening. If you live or work around the East Norriton, PA, area, then Dr. Bentz can help. Feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bentz at any time to learn more.