Scaling & Root Planing

Following a complete periodontal evaluation, which may include taking x-rays, a definitive diagnosis will be made. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Dr. Gainey may recommend scaling and root planing with local anesthetic.

The objective of this non-surgical procedure is to painlessly remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which causes gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment.

What do the procedures entail?

  • Scaling:
    When scaling is performed, calculus (tartar) and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces are removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with dental instruments called scalers, or with high frequency, vibrating ultrasonic scalers. This scaling instrument, usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.
  • Root Planing:
    Root planing is performed in order to remove necrotic cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.

Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, Dr. Gainey may place antibiotic fibers in the periodontal pockets after scaling and root planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.

When deep pockets between the teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Dr. Gainey to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, periodontal surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.

Benefits of Scaling and root planing

Scaling and root planing therapy is most often the first line of defense against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As the pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This eventually leads to tooth loss.

Scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will also be removed during scaling and root planing.

Lastly, scaling and root planing help prevent many other systemic diseases. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body. Scaling and root planing substantially reduces the levels of these periodontal pathogens.