Let’s get real. No one wants to talk about gum disease.
But the reality is that it’s more common than most people think. About half of Americans have it.
And not facing it is keeping people from living their best life and having a smile they can be proud of.
One way to get ahead of gum disease is through scaling and root planing, a dental procedure that is similar to a common cleaning.
But what is it? Why would you need it? What could be expected?
Let’s hit those in turn.
Let’s make sure we are all on the same page on what words mean.
Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that is always forming on teeth. Tartar is hardened plaque. It’s gross to think about. But knowing that there are bacteria constantly growing in your mouth explains so many things about it. For example, plaque and tartar cause bad breath and make teeth yellow.
It also highlights the need for constant care and professional cleanings from a dentist.
Scaling and root planing is a dental procedure where a dental professional uses a special tool to clean off plaque and tartar on teeth that’s stuck just below the gumline. To complete the procedure, the dentist carefully smooths the tooth root to help the gum reattach to the root.
It is also called a deep clean unofficially. It’s an intense procedure that fundamentally improves the health of the patient’s mouth.
Why Would I Need Scaling and Root Planing?
Scaling and root planing treats gum disease. There are several causes of gum disease, including poor oral habits, smoking, diet, genetic conditions or side effects of some medications.
These factors can lead to an infection, causing the gums to swell and recede from teeth. This opens up little pockets around the teeth where plaque and tartar can accumulate.
If they are not removed, they can accelerate infection and cause teeth and the jaw bone to rot. As a result, your teeth could fall out.
But if treated early enough, a professional cleaning should help resolve these pockets. Scaling and planning come in if these pockets are too deep.
What To Expect
To clean out the pockets around your tooth, the dentist uses tools called scalers and curettes to remove build-up in the pocket and around the tooth.
The dentist may use a numbing treatment to reduce irritation to make the procedure go smoother.
The dentist or oral hygienist performing the procedure will be meticulous and will take great care of each tooth. Assuming wisdom teeth have been removed, that’s 26 tooth pockets. A quarter or a half of the mouth might be treated in one appointment and the remainder treated in another appointment.
First, tools are used to remove the build-up; then another set is used to remove a very fine layer of the root. This encourages the pocket to close and the gums to fit tightly to the tooth root.
It’s essential for the dental professional to get all the build-up out at once. Each tooth may require several instruments, like power scalers, to ensure completeness.
After the visit, the dentist may require the patient to use medicine such as a local antiseptic or to take antibiotics to help the body fight off infection. Special mouthwash is also something that your dentist may give for aftercare.
Your gums may be sore or bleed a bit. This will feel better in a week or less.
Where Do You Go?
A local dentist will be especially attuned to the common dental and oral needs of your community.
And a dentist may be closer and more accessible than you think. See which dentist is closest to you to get to an ideal smile.