A Quick Overview of Dental Scaling and Root Planing

Posted on: 19 May 2016

If your latest visit to the dentist revealed that you have gum disease, it's highly likely that you will need to undergo dental scaling and root planing. This might sound like an odd procedure, even after your dentist explains it to you, but it can help reverse gum disease and is entirely pain-free. Here's a quick overview of everything you need to know.

What Is Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and root planing are two separate yet closely related procedures, so it's best to explain them individually:

  • Scaling: Scaling removes calculus and plaque from the tooth surfaces, both above and below the gum line. This is performed using an ultrasonic scaling tool that eliminates unwanted compounds using sonic vibrations; these tools will often also deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums in order to reduce bacteria. After it has been used, your dentist may use a manual instrument.
  • Root Planing: Root planing is conducted in order to remove cementum and surface dentin, which is often infested with unhealthy microorganisms, including toxins and tartar. These make it easier for bacteria to spread. The process also smooths out the roots of each tooth, decreasing inflammation and making it easier for your gums to properly reattach to your teeth.

How Will Scaling and Root Planing Feel?

If you think that these procedures sound somewhat unpleasant, you're not alone. The thought of your teeth being cleaned below the gum line by ultrasonic instruments might sound scary, but a numbing agent will be used to ensure that the procedure is pain-free. You may experience unusual pressure as the dentist works, plus some discomfort from holding your mouth open, but that should be all.

What Should You Expect After Scaling and Root Planing?

After such a deep cleaning, you may find that your gums feel tender and swollen for a day or two, but you should still brush and floss as normal. Some people may experience sensitivity, in which case a desensitizing toothpaste can be used. You may also be prescribed a pill or mouthwash to help prevent infection.

One thing to keep in mind is that many patients will require more than one of these procedures before their teeth have been completely cleaned, so don't be surprised if your dentist needs you back to complete the work.

Scaling and root planing is a pain-free treatment that can really help fight back against gum disease. It might feel a little odd, but it's a dental surgery that always works in your favour.

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