Scaling and root planing is a special type of treatment that goes deeper below the gum line to remove contaminated debris and bacteria, most often performed on patients with active periodontitis. This seems to be a procedure that causes so much confusion for patients in trying to understand the difference between "just a cleaning" and scaling and root planing, and the need/reason for this procedure.
How Does it Compare to Regular Dental Cleanings?
A professional polishing or prophy removes only the soft sticky plaque and hard crusty calculus that is above the gum line on the crown of the tooth. Scaling and root planing is done to remove soft sticky plaque and hard crusty calculus that is loaded with bacteria, around and below the gum line on root surfaces. It is a method of treating gum disease when pockets formed around the teeth have a measurement of greater than 3mm and there is evidence of bleeding and tissue attachment loss.
is a procedure that meticulously removes contaminated biofilm, plaque, calculus, microorganisms and toxins from around the gum line down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket, in order to obtain a healing response.
involves smoothing the root surfaces of your teeth with thin instruments so gum tissue can more firmly reattach to roots that are clean and smooth, to prevent tooth loss and sensitivity problems. This procedure makes it more difficult for plaque, calculus and bacteria to accumulate along these root surfaces.
Because this procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning, your mouth may be numbed. The cleaning may take one to six visits to complete. Depending on the extent of the disease, you may need one or more quadrants of the mouth to be treated with scaling and root planing.
Some Reasons Why Root Planning May Be Necessary
To control the growth of harmful bacteria
Help the pocket wall reattach firmly to the clean root surface
Prevent further bleeding of the gums from disease
Prevent bone loss
Prevent gum disease related tooth loss
Reduce systemic disease
Home Care After Root Planing and Scaling
Rinse with warm salt water every few hours (1/2 tsp. salt in 8 oz. water) for the remainder of the day to encourage healing and sooth discomfort. Be careful not to bite or chew your lip, cheek or tongue while they are numb. Avoid chewing for 2 hours after this procedure or until numbness has worn off. Keep your fingers and tongue away from the areas that have been treated. Take Tylenol or ibuprofen according to directions on the manufacturer label for a couple of days to help with the discomfort; do NOT take aspirin because it may prolong bleeding.
Rinse your mouth with Closys or Chlorohexidine, if prescribed by your dentist, to reduce oral bacteria. Do not smoke or chew tobacco for 72 hours after the procedure to allow for healing. Gently brush and floss your teeth after each meal. How you care for your teeth and gums at home after treatment is critical to reducing the risk of recurring periodontal disease.