Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing are a common step in most adult teeth cleaning appointments. This process removes harmful bacteria that has dried into a hardened calculus at the gumline. Bacteria that is allowed to come between the teeth and gums increase the depths of the gum pockets and induces a result of tooth and gum separation. We clear away this bacteria filled debris and encourage the gums to reattach. Our team at Kelly Smile Dentistry can help you have a healthier mouth.
What is scaling and root planing?
Scaling and root planing are part of the cleaning process of your teeth. Scaling is the removal of hardened plaque, known as tartar or calculus. Looking at your teeth in a mirror, you may see material that has collected on your teeth along the gum line. The collection of this material is a natural process, it is known as plaque.
Plaque is a blend of food debris and saliva, and it forms naturally. The downside of this material is that it is full of bacteria, and much of the food we eat contains sugar. As bacteria feeds on sugar, it emits an acid that breaks down the enamel of our teeth causing decay and cavities or caries. This is one of the reasons that daily brushing and flossing are so important. If plaque is consistently being removed, you can avoid this damage. If you allow plaque to remain in place, it will dry and harden into a material known as tartar or calculus. Tartar is problematic; it is difficult to remove, many patients cause damage to their enamel when they attempt to remove it on their own, and it contains a thriving bacteria population that happily feeds on the sugar of the food you eat. As the bacteria feed and grow, the patient has an active bacterial infection.
An active bacterial infection of the gum tissue is known as gum disease. There are less intense and more intense stages of gum disease, with the lowest level being known as gingivitis. Many adult patients suffer from gingivitis. We can remove the source of the infection and induce a healing response from your gingival tissue through scaling and root planing.
Scaling can be done with a hand tool or with an ultrasonic scaler, most often we will use both. The ultrasonic scaler blasts a very directed stream of water along with a vibrating tip. This allows us to remove hardened debris and the bacteria that is causing the infection without damaging your teeth. Some patients find this treatment to be tolerable and some patients may request a local anesthetic, we can accommodate as needed. Once we complete the removal of tartar, we then take the hand scaler to check for any remaining debris; the hand scaler allows us to feel in smaller detail for more accurate results. Following scaling, we then complete a process known as root planing.
Root planing is the smoothing of the tooth roots. Roots can become textured from the tartar that was in place; this textured surface allowed debris a place to rest easily. We smooth the root back into place, creating a surface that is more difficult for debris to settle, allowing the roots to stay healthier longer. Additionally, this process induces a healing response from your body which will assist in the reattaching of the teeth and gums.
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