Scaling and Root Planing
Unfortunately, one of the most common dental problems is also one of the most detrimental. When left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can have significant consequences for your oral health. At Thomas P. Rafferty, DDS, we specialize in several treatments designed to alleviate or prevent these potential problems.
A scaling and root planing is the most common periodontal procedure we perform. During a scaling and root planing, also known as “deep cleaning,” we remove plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) deposits from tooth surfaces both above and below the gums. Both of these substances are directly responsible for the development of periodontal disease.
The Importance of Periodontal Care
Plaque and tartar contain harmful bacteria responsible for both tooth decay and gum disease. As plaque and tartar build up, our immune system produces toxins to combat the bacteria. Unfortunately, these toxins also target healthy tissues and cause the infection we refer to as gum disease.
There are two stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis, the first stage, is characterized by an inflammation of the gums that may cause redness, swelling, and bleeding while flossing. Gingivitis starts with the gum tissue but ultimately spreads to the connective ligaments and underlying bone if it progresses to periodontitis. You may also develop deeper periodontal pockets, which trap food debris and bacteria, further contributing to the disease.
Periodontitis may result in irreversible damage to the gums, ligaments, and jawbone. Without treatment, this damage can become so severe that tooth loss will occur. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.
Scaling and Root Planing Procedure
We typically recommend a scaling and root planing if you have advanced signs of gum disease, such as deep periodontal pockets, persistent bad breath, and heavy plaque and tartar buildup.
During your procedure, Dr. Thomas Rafferty or our dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic scaler to clean the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly. The scaler produces microscopic bubbles that implode on the teeth, breaking up plaque and tartar deposits and killing off bacteria.
Once we have properly cleaned your teeth, we then need to plane the root surfaces. Smoothing out rough or uneven root surfaces helps prevent plaque, tartar, and bacteria from re-adhering to the tooth below the gum tissue. This should also help to reduce the depths of your periodontal pockets. If the procedure is a success, your gums will return to a healthy, pink state.
After your scaling and root planing, we may ask you to schedule a series of follow-up appointments to monitor your periodontal health. These maintenance appointments usually consist of routine exams and cleanings to keep plaque and tartar buildup at bay. Unfortunately, people with a previous gum disease diagnosis are likely to have a reoccurrence, especially without the proper maintenance. Be sure to implement a strong oral hygiene regimen at home to prevent this from happening.
A proper oral hygiene routine starts with brushing at least twice daily, especially after meals and before bed. Be sure to remove plaque, food debris, and bacteria from in between your teeth with daily flossing as well. If you would like added protection from gum disease, we recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash.
Schedule Your Appointment
If you have gum disease, you may need a scaling and root planing. Call (978) 720-9009 to schedule your appointment now!