When a patient is diagnosed with periodontal disease, the first stage of treatment is usually a procedure called scaling and root planing. This is a thorough cleaning with an important purpose: to remove dental plaque and tartar that cause inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment or a preventative measure, and is commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease.
What To Expect
Dr. Cristoforo will only perform scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of a patient's mouth, which may include multiple x-rays. Depending on the condition of the gum tissue, the amount of tartar present, the pocket depths, and the progression of the periodontitis. In most cases, a local anesthesia will be used during the procedure for patient comfort.
When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque attached to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line along the roots of the teeth. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool which is called an ultrasonic scaler. This tool usually includes an irrigation process used to deliver an antimicrobial agent (chemical agent or mouth rinse) below the gums, helping to reduce oral bacteria.
Root planing is done in order to remove cementum and surface dentin embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins, and tartar. The roots of the teeth are actually smoothed, which promotes healing and also helps prevent bacteria from colonizing in the future.
Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria causing the periodontitis. In some cases, Dr. Cristoforo may place local delivery antibiotics in the periodontal pockets after scaling and root planing to control any infection and encourage normal healing.
When deep periodontal pockets exist between teeth and gums, it is difficult to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore optimal periodontal health.
Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing
If treatment is successful, scaling and root planing may have many periodontal benefits.
Successful scaling and root planing helps prevent disease. Research has proven that the bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body. Sometimes the bacteria can even cause heart and respiratory diseases.
Another benefit of periodontal scaling and root planing treatment is protection against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 4+ millimeters in depth, the risk of periodontal disease greatly increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response as the body attempts to destroy affected gingival and bone tissue. This ultimately leads to tooth loss.
Scaling and root planing can even make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing. It also reduces bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will even be removed during scaling and root planing.