What is Scale and Root Planing

Hopefully, you have experienced having your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist or a hygienist. The plaque that forms on your teeth is removed manually with a hand-held dental tool called a scaler. Scaling and root planing is an extension of this procedure down the tooth and below the gum line. Also called deep cleaning, the procedure is the same. It is the removal of damaging plaque and tartar that are the primary source of gum disease.

We All Create Plaque

Every single day we each have millions of bacteria in our mouth. The saliva, bacteria and proteins create a thin, sticky layer that sits on the teeth called plaque. This plaque now collects more particles, sugars, and acids, all which attack the enamel of the teeth. This daily natural occurrence is why it is so strongly recommended to brush your teeth twice a day and to floss daily. This simple at home oral hygiene habit combats the daily buildup of plaque.

What Causes Gum Disease

This same plaque, carrying bacteria and acid, when neglected, will progress down the tooth, come in contact with the soft tissue of the gums, and immediately create an infection. Your gums will swell, become sensitive and unfortunately begin to sag away from the teeth. The gums are supposed to sit tight around the base of the crown but when the sagging starts it creates pockets that only accelerate the problem by trapping more unwanted tiny particles.

The Scale and Root Planing Process

Research has recently found that about 47% of American adults have some form of gum disease. This means mild, moderate, or severe gum disease. The percentage jumps to over 70% in adults over the age of sixty-five. This simply proves that plaque buildup on our teeth and roots is prevalent. The procedure to remove the plaque is either with the manual scaler tool or with an ultrasonic device that has a small vibrating tip to chip away the stubborn plaque and tartar. If your gums are tender a local anesthetic can be introduced to manage your discomfort. The scaling is done down the side of each tooth.

The root planing extension goes even further down the tooth making the root smooth again as well. This elimination of the plaque and bacteria allows the gums to heal naturally, closing the gaps around the teeth and makes it difficult for any plaque to stick again to the surface of the tooth.

Recovery and the Benefits of Scale and Root Planing

Depending on the extent of the damage to your gums at the time of the scaling with then the amount of scaling necessary to remove the source of the infection, you might experience sore gums for a few days. From this point forward good oral hygiene practices exercised by yourself will keep your gums healthy. Regular brushing twice a day of both the teeth and the gums and flossing once a day is all it takes. By combining your work with seeing your dentist twice a year for preventative examinations and x-rays and the professional teeth cleaning and scaling the office provides you can eliminate any future deep scaling and root planing.


What is Scale and Root Planing