If you or a family member have recently been diagnosed with gum disease, you may be curious about the most common treatment for deep dental cleaning known as scaling and root planing. But before we talk about the procedure itself, let’s look at the reason it may have been recommended in the first place.
Once you understand that gum disease is an infection that can’t be treated with even the most diligent at-home dental care practices and the highest-rated over-the-counter treatments, it will be easier to understand why the condition needs to be professionally treated. Certain factors can contribute to your risk of gum disease such as poor home hygiene, skipped professional cleanings, pregnancy, mouth-breathing, alcohol abuse, stress, and crooked or overlapping teeth. But whatever the cause of your condition, what has happened is that bacteria and plaque have built up on your teeth, which is now causing your gums to create periodontal pockets. The only way to treat these pockets is with the procedure known as root planing and scaling.
The procedure is most often completed over several appointments spread out over a short period with the use of a local anesthetic. Typically, dentists will either numb one side of your mouth and see you for two appointments or numb one-quarter of your mouth to treat your symptoms over four appointments. Whichever option is selected, the procedure for removing the hardened plaque is the same in that your hygienist or dentist will remove the built-up plaque below the gum line by utilizing hand instruments or an ultrasonic scaler.
Once the hardened plaque has been removed, and your periodontal pockets have been rinsed with an anti-bacterial solution or sterilized with a laser, you’ll be provided with aftercare instructions that have been tailored for your specific treatment plan. In general, patients will experience a little sensitivity in the areas that received treatment, but this mild discomfort will only last for a day or two. Some dentists may also give you an oral antibiotic or mouth rinse to expedite healing in between treatments. And last, you may receive a recommendation to shorten the time in between your cleaning appointments – known as periodontal maintenance – to stay ahead of the condition returning or worsening.