Scaling and Root Planing, also known as a dental deep cleaning, is very different from a regular cleaning. A regular cleaning focuses on the surfaces of the teeth and between teeth above the gum line. During a regular cleaning, the teeth are also polished.
A dental deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is needed in order to remove bacteria, tartar, and debris that has collected under the gum line.
The presence of calculus under the gumline creates a safe haven for bacteria to collect, and cannot be removed by brushing, flossing or with a regular cleaning. The presence of this bacteria causes an immune response from the body. This immune response results in inflammation, to fight the bacterial infection. If left untreated, the infection and inflammation will continue and progress further under the gum line, resulting in loose teeth and bone loss, and ultimately, the loss of one or more teeth.
Scaling and Root Planing can be performed on one or two quadrants of the mouth at a time, or the entire mouth can be treated in one visit, depending upon the diagnosis and recommendation of your dentist.
During the visit, the dentist will typically numb area to be treated. Next, the dentist will carefully work under the gum line to clean away the calculus and debris. After this, the root of the tooth will be chapes or planedto remove places where bacteria can collect in the future.
Depending on the depth of the pocket and severity of the root surface irregularity, the dentist may wish to make the area numb so that the process is comfortable for you. Sometimes if the pockets are not too deep, there may be little or no discomfort during the procedure – even without numbing. The only sensation may be the physical scraping feeling along the teeth as the area is cleaned and smoothened.
Recovery from a scaling and root planing is typically quite easy. Our dentist will usually prescribe antibiotics for you to take, and may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever if you are experiencing any discomfort. or tenderness in the treatment area. We will provide you with after care instructions, and confirm with you when you should be able to resume a regular oral hygiene routine, including regular brushing and flossing.
Gum disease can be treated and often cured, but may require regular ‘maintenance’ visits, usually every 3 months in the beginning, to monitor the status of your teeth, gums and bone to make sure your gums have healed and the bacteria has not returned. Some patients who may be predisposed to having gum disease may need to return for regular periodontal maintenance cleanings, and others may be able to return to a regular hygiene routine and 6-month dental checkup visits.
If plaque and tartar is left on the teeth, it provides the right conditions for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums, which means that they bleed more easily. You may notice this if you are brushing your teeth, or eating, and sometimes your gums may bleed a bit. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis. Most adults have some degree of gum disease.
If gingivitis is not treated and nothing is done about it, the inflammation will work its way down towards the foundations of the tooth causing a “periodontal pocket” and can cause more damage.
Gum disease can break down the support (bone) structures of the teeth, so that eventually, they will become loose. The problem is that until it gets quite severe, the person often has no symptoms. Sadly, the damage to the support structures of the teeth is irreversible. The good news is that if gum disease is caught in time, its progression can be halted and improved upon, and that is the key.