138 : What is Scale and Root Planing?
Dental scaling is a common treatment used for patients who have a lot of plaque build up and gum disease. It is a much deeper and more extensive cleaning than a standard oral cleaning. This cleaning goes below a person’s gum-line for removal of plaque.
When is Dental Scaling Needed?
Plaque build up is actually normal and experienced to some extent by everyone. Bacteria and proteins mix with saliva to create a thin layer of plaque that is covering the teeth, almost all the time. Regular brushing and flossing helps remove plaque day to day to help prevent dental health issues. If your gums are healthy the gum tissues will be formed tightly around the teeth and essentially keep the plaque out. Unfortunately, if gum disease begins to take hold, the tissue loosens. Deeper pockets will begin to form, which get filled with plaque which can make symptoms worse and can cause bad breath. If these pockets are four millimeters (or more) a dentist will likely suggest dental scaling. Removing plaque under the gum-line will help treat and address the gum disease issues.
Procedures for Scaling and Root Planing
In dental scaling the goal is careful and thorough removal of the plaque/bacteria from the surface of the teeth below the gum-line. For scaling procedures there are two basic approaches. A dentist may use handheld instruments to scrape plaque off of the tooth (or teeth) using a metal device called a curette or dental scaler. This very thin tool gets inserted under the gum-line to remove the plaque that can’t be reached with a toothbrush. Otherwise the dentist will likely use an ultrasonic instrument for scaling the teeth. Often after the scaling procedure usually root planing follows. In the root planing procedure the dentist is a able to reach even deeper and address any issues at the tooth’s root.
What Does The Scaling Procedure Feel Like?
If you have sensitive gums dental scaling might be a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes a local anesthetic is used for numbing gum tissues to lessen discomfort. If you have any concerns make sure to discuss with your dentist any and all options for numbing or desensitizing your gums. Dental scaling will usually actually involve multiple appointments to address all the areas of your mouth that are of concern. Make sure to discuss any questions you have with your dentist so that you can lessen or eliminate any discomfort issues and arrange the amount of treatments in the best way possible.
After any scaling and root planing treatment your mouth and gums make feel a bit sensitive and sore. For some people there is mild swelling and/or bleeding in the few days following. A desensitizing toothpaste and/or prescription mouthwash may be recommended to help soothe and keep the gum tissues clean. After the scaling procedure it is essential that you continue with optimal flossing and brushing procedures to prevent any plaque from re-forming in the same areas.
A visit will definitely be scheduled as a follow up to the scaling to measure the gum pocket depth again, and to do a thorough exam of the gums to make sure proper healing is taking place.
Dental scaling is considered a very common and helpful treatment for anyone suffering from gum disease.