Scaling and Root Planing Therapy in Periodontal (Gum) Disease

An estimated 70% of the adult U.S. population is affected by Periodontal (gum disease) disease, an often painless infection of the gum and bone.

The cause of periodontal disease is a build-up of bacterial plaque which is a sticky, colorless film that sticks to teeth at the gum line. The plaque produces poisons which cause the gums to become irritated, turn red, swell and bleed easily. If the irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing deep pockets that collect more plaque bacteria. Eventually, if left untreated, the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth will become loose, fall out or need to be extracted.

The early stages of gum disease can often be reversed with proper brushing and flossing. If the disease is more advanced a dentist, periodontist or dental hygienist will recommend removing the plaque through a non-surgical, deep-cleaning therapy called scaling and root planing. Scaling involves scraping off the hard mineral deposits (tarter) from above and below the gum line down to the bottom of each pocket. Root planing removes rough spots on the tooth.

Scaling and Root Planing Procedure:

  • A local anesthetic (Lidocaine) is administered to reduce any discomfort.
  • An instrument called a “scaler” or an ultrasonic cleaner is used to clean beneath the gum line to remove plaque and tartar and smooth out the rough spots on the tooth root allowing the gums to reattach to their roots.
  • Medication such as antibiotics will be prescribed to help control infection and speed up the healing process so the gums can become firm and pink again.
  • Follow-up visits will check to see if the pockets have decreased. If deep pockets are still present after scaling and planing therapy, surgery may be needed.

Once the scaling and root planing therapy is complete, instructions will be given on how to care for your healing teeth and gums.

Supportive and monitored periodontal maintenance care will be implemented to help prevent periodontal disease from recurring.

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