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The Root Planing and Scaling Procedure

By Burton Gooch on January 09, 2015


A woman with beautiful, healthy teethDental hygiene and professional cleanings are most commonly associated with the crowns of teeth - the visible portion of teeth above the gums. After all, this is where teeth are most immediately exposed to bacteria and physical wear. However, if the gums become infected, bacteria can spread below to the roots of teeth, posing even greater threats to one’s dental health. When gum disease progresses toward the roots, additional preventative care may be needed in order to prevent restorative dentistry such as root canal treatment.

Specifically, root planing and scaling is an effective form of preventative treatment that can halt the spread of disease near gums and roots. If you believe you may suffer from gum disease, or have recently experienced symptoms of infection near the roots of teeth, consider how this simple procedure at our Birmingham office can help. 

What Can Root Planing and Scaling Prevent?

Root planing and scaling, also called a deep cleaning, is primarily used to curb the spread of bacteria within the gums and near the sensitive roots of teeth. Like a regular professional cleaning, treatment is preventative: it aims to remove plaque and tartar before teeth can become infected. When a deep cleaning is recommended, it is usually because gum disease has progressed to the point where the roots have become vulnerable; if the roots are not cleaned and the gums do not heal, tooth decay may form within the roots, greatly compromising the tooth’s health. Additionally, gum disease can progress into periodontitis if it is allowed to spread, infecting nearby bone tissue and resulting in gradual bone loss. With a deep cleaning, teeth and gums can be restored to health without any invasive procedures, preventing infection before it can truly form.

Indications of Progressive Gum Disease

Believe it or not, most adults in the United States have at least some form of gum disease. For many, this manifests as mild gingivitis, and simply calls for improved hygiene habits. But when disease continues to spread down toward the roots, its symptoms and potential complications increase as well. Refer to the following effects of advanced gum disease to determine if you may be in need of a deep cleaning:

  • Pockets of infection: As gum tissue becomes increasingly infected, the gums may begin to pull away from teeth, forming pockets. The depth of these pockets is usually a good indicator of the severity of disease. This is often the most obvious and telling sign of when a deep cleaning is needed.
  • Reddened gums: Infected gum tissue often appears redder than regular tissue, typically where the gum line meets teeth.
  • Sensitive gums or teeth: Sensitive tissues may be indicative of infection. Gums are likely to be more sensitive when brushing or flossing, while tooth sensitivity tends to occur when exposed to cold or hot temperatures.
  • Bleeding gums: If your gums bleed after brushing or flossing, it’s likely that gum disease is present.
  • Bad breath: Chronic bad breath may be a result of the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
  • Mouth sores: Sores or abscesses are often the result of infected gums, particularly when they appear near the roots of teeth.

How Root Planing and Scaling Is Performed

When you come in for a deep cleaning, you can expect a safe and simple procedure that is not unlike a regular dental cleaning. Since the cleaning is focused beneath the gum line, though, additional measures are taken to ensure your comfort and prevent the future spread of disease. If periodontal pockets are particularly deep or the gums are not loose enough for easy access, local anesthesia may first be administered to prevent discomfort during the cleaning. When ready, the following steps will be taken:

  • A scaling tool will be used between the gums and roots to remove plaque, tartar, and infected tissue. This is similar to how plaque is normally removed from the crowns of teeth in a routine cleaning.
  • A planing tool will be used over the roots to smooth their surface. This discourages the accumulation of bacteria while providing an optimal surface for gums to adhere to and heal.
  • Antibiotics may also be administered within the pockets to prevent any future infection.

After cleaning, the gums will be left to heal back in place. Your dentist may also recommend changes to your daily hygiene or diet to best protect you from gum disease in the future.

Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

Root planing and scaling is just one of the many ways in which our practice can help you fight off decay before it becomes a true problem. Whether you need to schedule your next cleaning, exam, or restorative treatment, we are happy to offer our range of services provided by Dr. Gooch and his knowledgeable staff. Contact us today to inquire further or schedule your next appointment.

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120 Doug Baker Blvd
Ste 110
Birmingham, AL 35242

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