DEEP TEETH CLEANING
The first stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually scaling or root planing (“deep cleaning”). The objective of this non-surgical procedure is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or a preventative measure. Scaling and root planing is commonly performed on cases of mild to moderate periodontal disease.
WHAT DO THE PROCEDURES ENTAIL?
Dr. Erny will only recommend scaling and root planing after a thorough dental exam, which will include taking x-rays, measuring gum attachments, and visually examining the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Dr. Erny may recommend scaling and root planing. In most cases, a local anesthesia may be used during the procedure.
When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental instrument called an ultrasonic scaler. This scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.
Root planing is performed in order to remove affected 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 prevents 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 cause periodontitis. In some cases, Dr. Erny 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 severely deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is impossible for Dr. Erny or your dental hygienist to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. In these cases, surgery with a periodontal specialist may be needed to restore periodontal health or replace teeth lost to gum disease.
BENEFITS OF TREATMENT
Successful scaling and root planing procedures can help maintain the gum attachments and bone around your teeth. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and also affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.
Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This leads to tooth loss.
Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and will reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.