Understanding Dental Scaling and Root Planing

Understanding Dental Scaling and Root Planing

Team Periodontics

Approximately half of American adults suffer from gum disease. In the condition's earliest stage, which is called gingivitis, relatively minor symptoms, such as gingival reddening and swelling, may present. However, as the condition worsens, so do the symptoms.

Periodontitis is a serious form of gum disease that includes the formation of pockets, or spaces, between the gums and the teeth. These pockets incite an accumulation of bacteria-filled plaque and tartar that could lead to gingival infections. The deeper the pockets, the more severe the condition.

In some instances, an infection of the gums can spread to the bone of the jaw, causing additional complications. Bone infections may result in jawbone atrophy, leading to the loosening and eventual loss of the teeth. In addition, the infection-causing oral bacteria, which may enter the bloodstream, are linked to other conditions, such as heart disease and dementia.

If you have been diagnosed with severe periodontal disease, your dental provider is likely to prescribe a dental scaling and root planing procedure. Here is a bit of information about this treatment to help you better understand it.

Why Are Dental Scaling and Root Planing Needed?

In order to help the diseased gums to heal, the dentist must treat the source of the inflammation. A primary cause of gum inflammation is the gums’ exposure to bacterial acids that irritate the sensitive tissues. As the microbes in the mouth feed on available carbohydrates, they release acids as digestive waste products.

The pockets in the gums, which develop as the gums pull away from the teeth, may trap bacteria, allowing them to accumulate and produce increasing amounts of inflammatory acid. If the plaque and tartar that contain the microbes are not removed, the acid production continues, and the state of the gums may steadily deteriorate.

The gums are also inflamed by their contact with rough or abrasive surfaces. When plaque is allowed to remain in the same position, undisturbed, it begins to harden. The hardened plaque, which is called tartar, is a porous, hard substance that is not smooth to the touch. Dental scaling and root planing smooth the rough surfaces of the tooth material to help alleviate the gingival inflammation.

What Happens During a Dental Scaling and Root Planing Treatment?

The dental scaling and root planing procedure is a two-part, deep-cleaning process. The scaling involves the scraping away of tartar and plaque from the tooth material, above and below the gum line. As the dentist performs the procedure, the pockets or spaces that have developed between the teeth and gums are cleared of debris. The root planing is the smoothing of the roots of the teeth to promote the reattachment of the gums.

What Should You Expect After Dental Scaling and Root Planing?

After a scaling and root planing procedure, you can expect your gums to heal quickly. You may notice that your gums appear tighter and less red as the swelling and irritation dissipates.

For a few hours to a couple of days following your procedure, you may experience mild discomfort, and your teeth may be a bit more sensitive to heat and cold. Nevertheless, any uncomfortable sensations usually subside rapidly.

If you are concerned about the health of your gums, contact Ryan Senft, DDS at 408-996-8595 to schedule a consultation.