What is scaling and root planing?
If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing to treat the infection. The purpose of scaling and root planing is to remove bacteria and their toxins (plaque) as well as calculus (tartar) from below the gum line and root surfaces. Routine dental cleanings (prophylaxis) generally clean above the gum line and are not recommended for treating periodontal disease. In the development of periodontal disease, plaque first builds up on the tooth surface at the gum line. If it is not effectively cleaned from the tooth surface, the bacteria migrate under the gum, onto the root surface and into the surrounding tissue and bone. Once the bacteria are present under the gum, they begin to destroy the tissues and bone that hold the tooth in place. If left untreated, the infection could lead to severe damage of the gums, bone and eventual tooth loss. Some signs of periodontal disease are bad breath, red swollen bleeding gums, recession or loose teeth. However, some people don’t experience any symptoms when gum disease is first beginning.
Once the bacterial plaque and tarter are removed from the tooth and root surfaces, healing can begin. The tissues have a chance to regain health and reattach to the tooth surface. Bone loss, however, cannot be reversed. This is why it is important to treat periodontal disease in its earliest stages before it has a chance to severely destroy the bone.
Gum Disease Maintenance
Once you have completed your scaling and root planing, it is very important that you not only maintain your oral hygiene but also see your dentist or hygienist regularly. It is recommended that patients who have had scaling and root planing have Periodontal Maintenance visits every 3-4 months. Periodontal Maintenance visits will allow your provider to continue to measure and monitor the health of your mouth and gums and ensure the bacteria does not build up enough to cause more destruction.
Gum Disease Prevention
Your risk of acquiring periodontal disease may be prevented. Prevention is your first line of defense. This includes a good daily oral hygiene regimen and seeing your dentist at least twice yearly. Brushing two times per day and flossing in between the teeth daily will help prevent bacteria from building up. Your dental providers may provide additional instructions keeping your mouth clean and can supply you with additional aids that can be used at home.
Hawley Lane Dental will create an oral hygiene plan for you so that gum disease can be prevented. Please call us at 203-377-9300 to schedule an appointment.