What is Scale and Root Planing?

To understand what scaling and root planing is begins with understanding gum disease. Over 50% of American adults over the age of 35 have some form or level of gum disease. The scaling of the teeth and the addition of deeper root planing is the result of having gum disease and a measure taken to stop the advance of the disease and to take away the cause of the gum disease so the soft tissue can heal and become normal again. Let’s look at the cause of gum disease, the scaling and root planing procedures and the benefits of having this procedure done.

What Causes Gum Disease?

At any given point in the course of a 24-hour day there are millions of bacteria in our mouths. These bacteria create a tacky film on the surface of our teeth which makes it easier to attract even more buildup of bacteria. This buildup is called plaque. The plaque, harboring that bacteria attacks the tooth with the acids and will soon create cavities. As the plaque begins to build up at the gum line and then below the gum line it will infect the soft tissue of the gums. The gums begin to pull away from the tooth creating pockets which will accelerate the infection. Gum disease when left unattended can have many adverse effects. So your dentist will see the depth of the pockets and immediately suggest the scaling of your teeth to remove the bacteria carrying plaque below the gum line.

The Scaling and Root Planing Procedure

The health industries strongly suggest you brush your teeth slowly twice a day and floss at least once. Now you can see that good oral hygiene at home keeps the buildup of plaque at bay. It also suggests that you have your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year to get areas of the teeth that you just can’t reach. This scraping of the teeth with a handheld tool is scaling. When the dentist needs to scale beneath the gum line it is also considered deep cleaning. The same tool, or an ultrasound tool, will remove and chip away that bacteria carrying plaque making the tooth smooth again. If the plaque is bad and the gums are in an advanced stage of gum disease the dentist will find it necessary to scale further down the tooth. This is essentially root planing. Depending on the condition of the gums a local anesthetic might be necessary to control any discomfort.

The Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing

Upon completion your gums will be tender and sore for a few days. Once the gums begin to heal in the absence of the bacteria they will readhere to the tooth. The inflammation will go down and hopefully the depth of your pockets will return to normal. Due to the larger number of patients that have gum disease scaling and root planing are quite common. Keep in mind it starts with you. Good oral hygiene habits at home and you may never have to experience these two procedures.

More on Scale & Root Planing : Is Scale & Root Planing Painful?