What are scaling and root planing?
Scaling and root planing are treatments used for moderate to severe forms of gum disease. Both techniques are designed to clean the portions of the teeth located below the gum line. Scaling is designed to remove bacteria and tartar on the lower portion of the tooth and in the area surrounding the root, while root planing uses special methods to smooth rough spots from the root surface where bacteria can “grab on.”
What are the scaling and root planing procedures like?
Scaling and root planing are usually performed using a local anesthetic to avoid discomfort. During the procedure, special instruments designed to gently reach below the gums will be used to clean away disease-causing bacteria, plaque and tartar, leaving teeth and gums healthier. The roots will be gently smoothed to remove tiny pits or rough areas, and an antibiotic will be applied to the treated area to help kill any bacteria that may have been missed. Lasers may also be used in some gum disease treatments to help destroy bacteria at and below the gum line. Following your procedure, you may have some mild soreness in the treatment areas, but it will resolve shortly afterward.
How can I tell if I need scaling and root planing?
The only way to determine if you need these deep-cleaning treatments is to have a routine cleaning and examination of your gums. During your cleaning and routine exam, your gums will carefully be evaluated for signs of decay, which can include gum recession, a buildup of plaque and tartar at or just below the gum line, swollen or tender gums, and gum bleeding. Mild gum disease can usually be treated with regular cleanings, but if signs of more advanced disease are noted, root planing and scaling may be recommended.