Scaling and Root Planing

What is scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing is the most effective way to treat Periodontal Disease before it becomes severe. Scaling and root planing cleans between the gum and the tooth down to the root surface. This procedure allows for optimal healing of the gum tissues. Local anesthetic is used to numb the gum tissue and roots of the teeth for comfort of the patient and to allow the clinician to be most effective.

Why should I need scaling and root planing?

When you come for your exam with the hygienist, she measures the space between the tooth and the gum tissue with a probe. The probe measures to the base of the pocket where the gum tissue attaches to the tooth surface. A healthy gum measurement is 1-3mm, 4mm is a warning, usually daily flossing will help with this. When the hygienist measures a 5mm or greater scaling and root planing is recommended.

What to expect for a scaling and root planing procedure

Scaling and root planing is usually done in two separate appointments lasting approximately an hour and a half. First scaling is done to remove tartar, hardend plaque that calcifies, and plaque below the gum line. An ultrasonic cleaner along with special scalers are used to clean the plaque and tartar from the tooth surface. The longer this harmful bacteria is present the deeper the gum tissue measurements get creating different severity levels of Periodontal Disease. After the scaling is complete root planing begins. Root planing is smoothing of the root surface using special scalers again to allow the gum tissues to properly heal to the root surface. When there are localized pocket measurements great than 5mm a powdered antibiotic, called Arestin, is placed in the pocket following scaling. This antibiotic is used to aid in the healing of these areas where needed.

How do I prevent the need for scaling and root planing?

Proper homecare is the most effective way to prevent the need for scaling and root planing. This entails brushing twice daily, daily flossing and the use of an ADA approved rinse. However, there are other factors that need to be considered, such as, medical conditions and genetic history. So, the next time you have a cleaning ask you hygienist what your numbers are.

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