The objective of scaling &
root planning is to remove etiologic agents which cause inflammation to
the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone. Common etiologic agents
removed by this conventional periodontal therapy include dental plaque
and tartar (calculus).
These non-surgical procedures
which completely cleanse the periodontium, work very effectively for
individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and
moderate/severe periodontal disease.
Reasons for scaling and root planing
Scaling and root planning can
be used both as a preventative measure and as a stand-alone treatment.
These procedures are performed as a preventative measure for a
Here are some reasons why these dental procedures may be necessary:
– The oral bacteria which cause periodontal infections can travel via
the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Research has shown that
lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal
bacteria. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria and halts
periodontal disease from progressing, thus preventing the bacteria from
traveling to other parts of the body.
– When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, there is a greater risk of
periodontal disease. As pockets deepen, they tend to house more
colonies of dangerous bacteria. Eventually, a chronic inflammatory
response by the body begins to destroy gingival and bone tissue which
may lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of
tooth loss in the developed world.
– Scaling and root planing help remove tartar and plaque from the teeth
and below the gumline. As an added bonus, if superficial stains are
present on the teeth, they will be removed in the process of the scaling
and root planning procedure.
– One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis (bad
breath). Food particles and bacteria can cause a persistent bad odor
in the oral cavity which is alleviated with cleaning procedures such as
scaling and root planing.
What do scaling and root planing treatments involve?
Scaling and root planing
treatments are only performed after a thorough examination of the
mouth. The dentist will take X-rays, conduct visual examinations and
make a diagnosis before recommending or beginning these procedures.
Depending on the current
condition of the gums, the amount of calculus (tartar) present, the
depth of the pockets and the progression of the periodontitis, local
anesthetic may be used.
Scaling – This
procedure is usually performed with special dental instruments and may
include an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool removes calculus
and plaque from the surface of the crown and root surfaces. In many
cases, the scaling tool includes an irrigation process that can also be
used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums that can help
reduce oral bacteria.
Root Planing –
This procedure is a specific treatment which serves to remove cementum
and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins
and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed in order to
promote good healing. Having clean, smooth root surfaces helps bacteria
from easily colonizing in future.
Following these deep cleaning
procedures, the gum pockets may be treated with antibiotics. This will
soothe irritation and help the gum tissues to heal quickly.
During the next appointment,
the dentist or hygienist will thoroughly examine the gums again to see
how well the pockets have healed. If the gum pockets still measure more
than 3mm in depth, additional and more intensive treatments may be
If you have any concerns or questions about scaling and root planing, or periodontal disease, please ask your dentist.
You are welcome to schedule an appointment today!