Deep Teeth Cleaning

The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or a preventative measure. This is most commonly performed on cases of moderate to severe periodontal disease.

What Do the Procedures Entail?

Dr. Frideres or Dr. Everson will only prescribe scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of the mouth, which may include taking x-rays, measuring gum pocket depths, and visually examining the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Drs. Frideres or Everson may recommend scaling and root planing to be completed by a member of our hygiene team. In some cases, a local anesthesia may be used during the procedure.

An animated illustrion showing the process of scaling

Scaling:

When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.

An animated depiction of a root planning procedure

Root Planing:

Root planing is performed to smooth the tooth root structure and remove any colonized bacteria. The root of the tooth is  smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.

Antibiotics, irrigation with anti-microbials (subgingival mediations or mouth rinses), or use of a dental laser may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, Drs. Frideres or Everson may place antibiotics in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This is done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.

When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Drs. Frideres or Everson to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. For some patients surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.

Benefits of Treatment

If treatment is successful, scaling and planing can have many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.

Another benefit of treatment is protecting against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body which destroys gingival and bone tissue and can lead to tooth loss.

Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.

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