The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planing, sometimes referred to as deep cleaning. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus and to smooth the root surface to help prevent future buildup.
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What Do the Procedures Entail
After a thorough examination of the mouth, which includes taking x-rays, visually examining the mouth and measuring the pockets between the teeth and gums, we will provide a recommended treatment plan. The goal of treatment is to reduce the pocket depths to a level that can be maintained and stabilized to prevent more damage. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis we may need to refer you to a periodontal specialist.
When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.
Root planing is performed in order to smooth the root surface that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. This promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.
Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis.
Occasionally scaling and root planing aren’t enough to create a stabile and maintainable periodontal condition. In those cases periodontal surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.
Benefits of Treatment
If treatment is successful, scaling and root planing may have many health benefits. One is that it can help prevent disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.
Another benefit of treatment is protecting against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body that destroys gingival and bone tissue. This leads to tooth loss.
Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.