We all want a lifetime of good oral health. However, sometimes brushing and flossing simply aren’t enough. A build-up of plaque and tartar over time can lead to tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. This can result in the removal of damaged teeth and costly and invasive replacement treatments like dental implants.
To ensure a lifetime of happy and healthy teeth and gums, your dentist will recommend periodic teeth scaling and root planning. These procedures are more generally known as deep cleaning.
More intensive and in-depth than a regular dental clean, teeth scaling and root planing are often used to treat chronic periodontal disease (more commonly known as gum disease).
But what is dental scaling and why is it important? Well, let’s find out a little more.
What does teeth scaling and root planning involve?
Over time, plaque will build up on your teeth. Left untreated, the plaque will harden to become tartar (also known as dental calculus), which is much more difficult to remove. This plaque carries bacteria that can damage tooth enamel, cause cavities and lead to gum disease. As this happens, your gums can become inflamed and start to pull away from the teeth, causing pockets between the teeth and gum line.
Dental scaling is the process used to remove this build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth and below the gum line.
Before the treatment, your dentist will carry out a complete dental exam and gum health check to see if you have any dental issues that may interfere with the scaling treatment.
Teeth scaling involves your dentist scraping the accumulated plaque and tartar from your teeth, as well as cleaning plaque from pockets that have developed between your teeth and gums. This can be done with traditional dental tools like a tooth scaler or curette or with lasers or ultrasonic devices.
Your dentist may then decide that root planing is necessary. This involves smoothing down the roots of the teeth, which helps the gums reattach to the teeth ensuring the pockets aren’t left open.
The treatment can often take more than one session and may require local anesthetic to lessen the discomfort, depending on the extent of the work required.
Depending on the severity of your condition, it may take up to a week to fully recover from the treatment, although recovery usually only takes a few days. You may be in pain for a few days, with sensitive teeth and gums for up to about a week. Your gums may also bleed during this period.
Your dentist may use antimicrobial agents or prescribe oral antibiotics for you to take home to speed up the healing process and prevent infections.
Finally, your dentist will schedule another visit to see how your gums have healed and measure the depth of your pockets. If they have gotten deeper, more treatment may be needed.
When do you need teeth scaling?
Generally, your dentist will only recommend teeth scaling if you are starting to show signs of chronic periodontal disease. If left untreated, chronic periodontal disease can lead to:
- Bone and tissue loss
- Tooth loss
- Loose teeth
- Moving teeth
If you’re unsure if you are starting to show signs of gum disease, these are a few of the common symptoms:
- Bleeding gums
- Inflamed, red, or tender gums
- Bad breath
- Shifting permanent teeth
- A change in your bite
This treatment will remove the build-up that is causing the gum problems, giving your gums a chance to heal and reducing the chance of major dental problems down the road.
By reducing the pockets that develop between your teeth and gums through teeth scaling and root planing, you will reduce your risk of experiencing tooth, bone, and tissue loss associated with chronic periodontal disease.
For more information, contact your dentist.