138 Is Scale and Root Planing Painful?
If you are suffering from gum disease, a treatment known as dental scaling will likely be suggested by your dentist. The dental scaling treatment is a very common treatment for gum disease to restore gums to a healthier condition and to keep any gum disease from worsening. Dental scaling removes tartar and plaque buildup from the teeth and promotes healthier gums. Scaling is considered a non-surgical treatment, but it is a different kind of treatment than a general dental cleaning because areas of the mouth underneath the gum line are cleaned and treated.
There are two different kinds of dental scaling tools that are used for the dental scaling and root planing treatments. In some cases the hand held tools known as the curette and the dental scaler will be used to actually “scale” the build up of plaque from the teeth. Since plaque is not easily visible the dentist or hygienist is relying on the “feel” and sense of touch to identify and clean any areas that have rough spots and tartar buildup. In some cases of scaling and root planing treatments ultrasonic scaling instruments will be used for cleaning the plaque build up. The ultrasonic instruments have vibrating metal tips that are able to chip away the tartar. A water spray will be used for rinsing any tartar away.
After the dental scaling treatment dentists will often recommend an electric toothbrush to support healthier gums. The electric toothbrushes are often able to clean near the gum line in a more effective way, which can help decrease the amount of plaque bacteria along the gum line. There are some cases of gum disease that will require surgery, and even in these cases often a dentist will still recommend the scaling and root planing treatment before any surgery.
Are Dental Scaling and Root Planing Treatments Painful?
During a scaling and root planing treatment a patient’s gums and tooth roots are typically numbed with a local anesthesia. Generally the dental scaling and root planing treatment causes minimal discomfort. A whole scaling and planing treatment is sometimes done in one appointment, but typically and ideally the treatment will be done in stages, so that only one half or one quarter of the mouth is treated at a time. This lessens discomfort and allows dentists to be very thorough. After the treatment the gums will likely be numb due to the anesthesia, and as the numbness wears off they might be a little tender. If a consistent and thorough oral health care routine is maintained (including brushing and flossing twice a day) after the treatment, the gums should return to a pink, firm, healthy state.
A full health and dental history should be taken by the dentist before any scaling and root planing treatment. Because the scaling and root planing treatment can introduce bacteria into a person’s bloodstream, certain precautions might need to be in place for treating gum disease in anyone who has a compromised immune system or a higher risk of getting infections. People with heart issues, liver disease, or other autoimmune disorders will need to discuss risks and best treatment approach. Generally however, the scaling and root planing treatment is considered safe and is a very common treatment for gum disease.