Why did my dentist recommend dental scaling and root planing?


If you tend to get your teeth cleaned by a professional every six months, then you may have heard of a professional procedure known as dental scaling and root planing. Dental scaling and root planing are popular dental procedures used to treat severe gum diseases. These procedures are usually performed on individuals experiencing severe gum diseases or who have excessive plaque buildup on their gums.

If your Grande Prairie Dental Clinic recommends dental scaling and root planing, it’s important to know what it means, why it has been recommended and what lies ahead.

When does one require scaling and root planing?

From time to time, everyone experiences some form of bacterial plaque. Saliva, protein and bacteria in your mouth will form a thin sticky layer which will cover the teeth. When eating, sugar and tiny particles from food will stick on to this thin layer and, in the process, form a plaque.

Bacteria found in the periodontal pockets can result in tooth decay, gum recession and gum diseases. This is because of the proximity of bacterial plaque to the gum tissue. When not addressed, the bacterial plaque will begin to cause gum infections and irritate the gums. Regular dental cleaning, flossing and brushing will not only remove the plaque but will also prevent serious gum diseases. Healthy gums fit perfectly around the teeth, thereby keeping the plaque out. However, the case is different for individuals suffering from gum diseases.

One of the most common symptoms of gum diseases is inflammation of the skin which tends to loosen the tissues found around the teeth. This, in turn, allows plaque to fill into the periodontal pockets created. Once bacterial plaque begins to accumulate into the pockets, the plaque buildup will, in turn, lead to bad breath and gum diseases.

Type of tools used for deep cleaning

When it comes to scaling and root planing, there are two types of tools used by dentists. In some cases, the dentist might use only one of these tools, while in other instances they might use both.

  • Handheld Tools – Handheld tools for dental scaling include curette and dental scaler. Your dentist or periodontist will use curettes and dental scalers to manually remove plaque from your teeth. Since dentists and periodontists are not able to see the plaque, they tend to rely on radiographs and a periodontal probe to identify key areas where there is plaque buildup.
  • Ultrasonic Instruments – Dentists use ultrasonic scaling instruments to clean plaque from the teeth. The ultrasonic instruments used by dentists feature a vibrating metal tip which chips off tartar from teeth, and a water spray used to wash away the chipped tartar.

Does dental scaling hurt?

Though root cleaning and dental scaling cause very little discomfort to patients, the dentist will numb your tooth roots and gums using local anesthesia. As discussed above, the dentist will then use the scaling instruments to eliminate the plaque buildup.

When going for dental scaling or root planing, it’s extremely important to ensure that the dentist has a clear understanding of your health history. Because scaling and root planing may introduce bacteria into your bloodstream, it’s important to ensure that the dentist takes certain precautions, especially when dealing with individuals suffering from liver disease, heart problems or a compromised immune system.

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