Scaling and Root Planing is recommended when Periodontitis (Gum Disease) is present and conventional dental prophylaxis will not sufficiently treat the disease process. The objective of scaling & root planing is to remove etiologic agents which cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone. Common etiologic agents removed by this conventional periodontal therapy include dental plaque and tartar (calculus).
What do scaling and root planing treatments involve?
Scaling and root planing treatments are only performed after a thorough examination of the mouth. The dentist will take X-rays, conduct visual examinations and make a diagnosis before recommending or beginning these procedures.
Depending on the current condition of the gums, the amount of calculus (tartar) present, the depth of the pockets and the progression of the periodontitis, local anesthetic may be used.
Scaling – This procedure is usually performed with special dental instruments and may include an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool removes calculus and plaque from the surface of the crown and root surfaces. In many cases, the scaling tool includes an irrigation process that can also be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums that can help reduce oral bacteria.
Root Planing – This procedure is a specific treatment which serves to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed in order to promote good healing.
During the next appointment, the dentist or hygienist will thoroughly examine the gums again to evaluate response to treatment. If the patient's response to treatment is insufficient, a referral to periodontist (gum specialist) may be needed.
If you have any concerns or questions about scaling and root planing, or periodontal disease, please ask your dentist.