Deep Teeth Cleaning

Registered Dental Assistants working on teethThe initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease consists of a thorough cleaning called scaling and root planing. The goal is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing is commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease where heavy buildup has accumulated below the gumline.

What Do the Procedures Entail?

Drs. Kalons, Glidewell or Grewal will only perform scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of the mouth, which include taking x-rays and performing a clinical exam in the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, and the depth of the pockets, Drs. Kalons, Glidewell or Grewal may recommend scaling and root planing. Typically it is completed on just one half of the mouth at a time using local anesthetic to make the procedure comfortable. A person who undergoes scaling and root planing is often seen more frequently to keep on top of the condition, usually every 3-4 months.

An animated illustrion showing the process of scaling

Scaling:

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.

An animated depiction of a root planning procedure

Root Planing:

Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.

In some cases of periodontitis, antibiotics or irrigation with antimicrobials may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria causing the disease. Occasionally, Drs. Kalons, Glidewell or Grewal may recommend the placement of antibiotic fibers in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing to encourage normal healing. When advanced bone loss is present, a referral to a periodontist may be indicated to consider the possibility of surgery.

Benefits of Treatment

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 removes bacteria associated with these conditions.

Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth 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 to destroy gingival and bone tissue. As the bone is lost, teeth can become mobile and eventually be lost.

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, resulting in a brighter smile.