Ask the Dentist – What is scaling and root planing? Why do I need it?

Ask the Dentist – What is scaling and root planing? Why do I need it?

by Dr Mark Rehermann

Scaling and root planing, also known as a deep cleaning, is a non-surgical dental procedure performed to treat gum disease (particularly in its early to moderate stages). It involves two main steps: scaling and root planing.

  • Scaling: During scaling, your dentist or dental hygienist uses special dental instruments to remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surfaces of your teeth, both above and below the gumline. This process aims to eliminate the bacterial buildup that contributes to gum disease.
  • Root Planing: Root planing involves smoothing out the rough surfaces of the tooth roots. This step helps remove any remaining bacteria and promotes the reattachment of the gum tissue to the roots. It also helps prevent further plaque buildup and allows the gums to heal.

You may need scaling and root planing if you have signs of gum disease, such as red, swollen, or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, or gum recession. The procedure is typically recommended when there is evidence of gum pockets (spaces between the gums and teeth) deeper than 3 millimeters. Deepening pockets indicate the presence of bacteria and plaque that have accumulated below the gumline, making it difficult or impossible to clean with regular brushing and flossing.

By undergoing scaling and root planing, you can:

  • Treat gum disease: Scaling and root planing help remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar, preventing the progression of gum disease and reducing the risk of tooth loss.
  • Promote gum healing: Smoothing the tooth roots encourages the gums to reattach to the teeth, reducing pocket depth and preventing the accumulation of bacteria.
  • Prevent further complications: Treating gum disease early can prevent more severe problems such as bone loss, abscesses, and systemic health issues linked to periodontal disease.

It’s important to note that scaling and root planing is typically performed as a conservative treatment option before considering more invasive procedures, such as gum surgery. Please let us know if you are having any concerns with your gum health and we will be happy to make the best treatment recommendation based on your individual needs.

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