Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning below the gum line used to treat gum disease. This deep cleaning has two parts. Scaling is when the hygienist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gum line, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the gum pocket. Your hygienist will then begin root planing, smoothing out your teeth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth. Scaling and root planing may take more than one visit to complete and generally requires a local anesthetic which is administered by the dentist and/or in some states by the hygienist.
Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but if your teeth aren’t cleaned well, plaque hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar cannot be brushed off with your toothbrush. The bacteria can then thrive inside the hardened tartar shield and cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. Bacteria then thrive in these pockets as more plaque and tartar builds. The bacteria then produced toxins that destroy even more bone. If untreated, gum disease could lead to extensive bone and tooth loss.
If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gum line and the gums are not too inflamed, a professional cleaning should suffice. If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, however, scaling and root planing will be needed. Your dentist and/or hygienist will measure your pocket depths with a periodontal probe to determine the proper treatment course of action.
You deserve healthy teeth and gums!
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