Scaling and root planing

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scaling & root planing

Dental scaling is a routinely performed procedure to help patients with gum disease and excessive plaque buildup. If your dentist / periodontist suggests dental scaling and root planing for your teeth, it’s helpful to know what this means so you can prepare for what’s ahead.

What is scaling?

Scaling is a type of dental cleaning that reaches above and below the gumline to remove sticky film of bacteria (plaque) buildup.

What is root planing?

Root planing is cleaning of the root surface to smooth rough target areas, thereby
eliminating plaque and biofilm and help the gums to reattach to the tooth.

When is dental scaling and root planing necessary?

When you eat, tiny particles from the food stick to a film, along with the bacteria create a layer on the teeth known as plaque. Plaque if they aren’t cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing.

If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gum line, scaling should do.

If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, scaling and root planing may be needed. These procedures can help stop the harmful effects of this condition and keep your mouth healthy.


What are the tools used for scaling and root planing?


How is Scaling and Root planing procedure done?

During your initial examination at FMS, your dentist will evaluate your plaque buildup and examine your gums for possible periodontal problems.

Scaling removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gumline, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. This is done with an instrument that vibrates at a high frequency with water to more efficiently remove the debris while preventing any damage to your tooth root. Depending on the amount of tartar and plaque build up, and your level of tooth sensitivity, tooth scaling may prove painful, a numbing gel or anesthetic injection typically will be administered to the area to lessen discomfort.


before after scaling

Root planing is an attempt to smoothen rough surfaces and remove any subgingival (below the gums) bacteria. During the procedure, the periodontist cleans deep below the gums to remove plaque and tartar buildup on the roots of teeth, which prevents plaque from accumulating along the root surfaces and allows gum tissue to heal.

What to expect after scaling and root planing?

Your mouth may feel sore and sensitive after your dental scaling and root planing. Your periodontist may suggest a desensitizing toothpaste to help ease this discomfort. You might get a prescription mouthwash to use after the procedure, as well, to help keep the gums clean. It’s crucial that you use proper brushing and flossing procedures after your scaling to stop plaque from forming again in the same areas.

At FMS we schedule a second visit after your dental scaling to examine the gums, and make sure your mouth is healing properly. If your periodontist indicates that you need a deep cleaning, don’t hesitate to schedule this appointment. Infact, you’ll likely be placed on a periodontal maintenance cleaning schedule, returning for regular cleanings every three to four months.


What are the benefits of teeth scaling and root planing ?

  • Reduce your risk of experiencing tooth, bone, and tissue loss associated with gum disease.
  • Can eliminate bad breath associated with gum disease
  • After the bacteria and plaque are removed, your gum tenderness and chronic inflammation will be less severe.
  • Many of the debilitating systemic diseases can be greatly reduced by simply removing the tartar.

What are the risks?

The risks of teeth scaling are minimal. You may be at risk for infection for patients with co-morbidities following the procedure, so your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic or a special mouthwash to use for a few days or weeks.


How long does it take?

The whole procedure may be done in a single visit, although half of the mouth is also done again depends on patients disease severity and cooperation.

How often should scaling be done?

Depending on the proliferation of plaque in the mouth due to certain factors like hormones, age, cigarettes , intake of sugary food and poor oral hygiene (no floss etc) , your periodontist will let you know on a case to case basis how often you should go. As a rule of thumb it is recommended to visit your periodontist every 6 months , if however we find that the plaque is under control , we will tell you to come back within a year.

Will scaling be enough to reverse your gum disease?

In case of initial stages of gum disease, scaling may be all you need. However, if the gum disease has progressed to further stages, further treatment may be required.

Myths about dental scaling

MYTHS – Teeth cleaning causes gap between teeth

FACT – Scaling doesn’t form gaps between teeth. When gum disease becomes severe, more tartar forms between teeth, with scaling this tartar is removed, making it appear like gaps.

MYTHS – Teeth become weak and unstable

FACT – When plaque is not removed it converts into tartar. Tartar affects the natural bonding of the teeth and gums. In actuality the teeth are shaky and tartar holds them in position, when tartar is removed during scaling, the teeth might feel shaky.

MYTHS – Scaling causes sensitive teeth

FACT – When tartar is removed, the area of the tooth gets exposed to oral environment, which causes mild sensitivity, that disappears in a couple of days.

MYTHS – Scaling removes enamel

FACT – Scaling can never damage enamel which is the outer surface of teeth when performed by proper teeth scaling instruments.

Dental Scaling Procedure Watch Outs

Be sure that your dental professional knows your total health history before he or she performs a scaling and root planing procedure. The procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, so precautions may need to be taken to treat gum disease in people who are at increased risk for infections, such as those with heart problems, liver disease or a compromised immune system due to an illness, such as HIV.

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