How Root Planing and Scaling Can Prevent Decay

December 22, 2014 — by Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky
Tags: Gum Disease Restorative Dentistry

A woman with bright, healthy teethRoutine general dentistry practices like daily hygiene and professional cleanings are needed to maintain a healthy smile. If these practices are occasionally skipped or performed unsatisfactorily, it is far more likely that decay will form within teeth and gums. Even when people take good care of their teeth, some patients simply face a higher predisposition to decay. In any case where bacteria continue to spread, especially down toward the roots of teeth, additional action is needed to prevent serious infection.

Root planing and scaling is one procedure that can greatly reduce the risk of infection, as it removes bacteria, plaque, and tartar from below the gum line, where teeth are particularly vulnerable. If you have signs of progressive gum disease, consider visiting our Edmonton practice for an exam and possible root planing and scaling procedure.

What Is Root Planing and Scaling?

Root planing and scaling is also known as a deep cleaning, or non-surgical periodontal therapy. The aim of this procedure is similar to that of a regular cleaning: the removal of harmful bacteria from teeth and gums. But unlike a regular cleaning, which only focuses on the exposed crowns of teeth, a deep cleaning is able to target plaque and infection beneath the gum line, between the gums and roots.

For most patients, even those with mild gum disease, plaque remains primarily on teeth and above the gum line. However, if gum tissue becomes infected, it may begin to recede or pull away from teeth, allowing bacteria to spread further down. This results in pockets of infection, and if these pockets are not treated with periodontal therapy, they may pose a significant risk to the nearby roots.

How Does a Deep Cleaning Work?

A deep cleaning utilizes similar steps to those of a regular professional cleaning, but first, the dentist must be able to reach the site of infection. If the gums have pulled away from the teeth due to disease, the dentist may be able to simply clean the gums and roots directly. However, in many cases, the dentist will have to first move the scaling tool between the gums and. While this does not require any incisions or invasive measures, patients may be given anesthesia to limit discomfort.

The scaling tool is then used to scrape away plaque, tartar, and infected tissue that have accumulated over time. Once clean, a planing tool will be used over the roots, creating a smoother surface that deters bacteria from forming again. Antibiotics may also be administered to the area, preventing infection. After treatment, the gums will have an easier time healing back over teeth, and any indications of gum disease should gradually improve.  

Candidates for a Deep Cleaning

Root planing and scaling is primarily a response to progressive gum disease, and patients should be on the lookout for signs of advancing disease. These may include:

  • Bad breath: If you have trouble controlling your breath even with regular hygiene, it may be an indication of diseased gums and the harmful bacteria therein.
  • Gum sensitivity or bleeding: If you find your gums sore or bleeding after brushing or flossing, it is likely due to disease.
  • Receding gums: A receding gum line is often not noticeable at first, as it tends to occur gradually. If you do notice your gums receding over time, speak with your dentist about how to improve your periodontal health.
  • Pockets of infection: The most obvious sign of gum disease is when the gums pull away from teeth and pockets of infection form near the roots. At this point, it is important to discuss periodontal treatment options with your dentist.

Gum disease may also result in loosening teeth, sores or abscesses, and the degradation of nearby jawbone tissue. With regular exams and cleanings, any instance of gum disease can be caught in its earlier stages, preventing serious infection and other complications.

Schedule Your Next Appointment

Root planing and scaling is just one of the many preventative services we offer to keep our patients’ smiles strong and stunning. For more information on our periodontal treatments or to schedule your next cleaning, contact our office to speak with one of our dental professionals.