Dental Scaling and Root Planing 101

dental scaling and root planing

Dental scaling and root planing is intended to provide a healthy tissue environment in which tissues re-adapt to normal tooth surfaces. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of calculus, plaque, and stain on the crowns and root surfaces of teeth. It can begin as localized gingival inflammation and progress to a serious disease resulting in major damage to the soft tissue and the bone that supports your teeth. Left untreated, this disease progresses to the ultimate loss of teeth. In periodontal disease, gingival tissue may detach (pull away) from teeth, and periodontal pockets form that trap bacteria/food. Dr. Niles prescribes dental scaling and root planing treatment to patients who show symptoms of periodontal disease or gingival inflammation. Learn more!

Are Office Cleanings the Same as Dental Scaling and Root Planing?

One of the most common questions we are asked is the difference between a regular office cleaning and dental scaling and root planing. Yes, they are both types of dental cleanings but they offer distinct approaches to managing your oral needs.  A common name for dental scaling and root planing treatment is a deep cleaning.

What Happens During a Dental Scaling and Root Planing Appointment?

Dr. Niles will employ different hand and ultrasonic instruments to aid her in your dental scaling and root planing procedure. All procedures begin with a comprehensive examination of your mouth and soft tissues. After Dr. Niles has assessed your current needs, she will use an ultrasonic scaling device to eradicate plaque bacteria with sonic vibrations. The ultrasonic scaling device rids your teeth/gumline of harmful tartar (calculus). When needed, a manual instrument is used to remove the remainder of the biofilm/plaque present.  Root planing requires a detailed scaling of the tooth’s root surface. This scaling process helps reduce inflammation of your gum tissue. Dr. Niles will “scale”–remove by scraping–the tooth’s root surface to polish rough areas and prevent future plaque and biofilm development.

Why Do I Need Dental Scaling and Root Planing?

periodontal diseaseThe simple answer to this question is that deep cleanings can halt or reverse gum disease when it is found in its early stages. When Dr. Niles sees signs that your mouth is in the early stages of gum disease she will prescribe a dental scaling and root planing to both prevent more serious problems and to treat the current issues she sees. The Journal of Dental Research recently published data indicating that 47.2 percent, nearly half of the American adult population, have some form of periodontitis–the more advanced stage of periodontal disease. Why should you be concerned about periodontal disease? Gum decay and and gum recession greatly impacts your teeth and your overall health. Gums anchor your teeth to the jaw, and protect teeth roots from plaque and bacteria.  Gum disease can have far-reaching effects and is linked to heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

Signs that You May Need a Deep Cleaning

If you see any of the following signs or symptoms, call our office for an appointment so we can evaluate if you are in need of a deep cleaning. Regular self-examinations of your teeth should ensure that you are free of the following signs. If you see any of these symptoms, or a combination of them, you may be in need of dental scaling and root planing:  

  • your gums are starting to pull away from your teeth
  • if the tartar has spread to the roots of your teeth
  • your gums are showing signs of persistent inflammation

If you are ever unsure, give our office a call for an appointment.  It is always better to get ahead of issues rather than waiting for small things to become big things.

Will My Treatment Session Hurt?

Dental scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure that can be done right in our Niwot office. We administer local anesthesia to help make you more comfortable during the treatment session.  When your tissues are numb, we begin treatment using a specialized instrument–a curette (scraping tool) or ultrasonic device–to eradicate the tartar and plaque from the roots of your teeth and the neighboring gum pockets.

What Are the Post-Treatment Effects of Dental Scaling and Root Planing?

Deep cleanings, are just that, deep, so it is normal to experience some temporary discomfort or occasional bleeding following a dental scaling and root planing session.  Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can ease tenderness as well as rinsing with a medicated mouthwash. Continue with your attention to proper dental hygiene using smooth/soft dental floss and a soft-bristled toothbrush to help minimize irritation.  

Call for a Dental Scaling and Root Planing Consultation

You don’t need to be afraid of the dental scaling and root planing treatment. This treatment prevents the things that you would need to worry about.  Keeping your mouth healthy is worth the daily efforts that you make.  Dedicated attention to your oral health will not only yield a brighter smile, but a healthier you! Niles Family Dentistry is here to help you. Our state of the art dental techniques and warm, friendly, fun environment are designed to help you enjoy the process of obtaining a beautiful, healthy smile. Call today for a free consultation at (720) 744-0001.  Niles Family Dentistry serves the families of the Niwot, Longmont & Boulder communities. We look forward to meeting you and your family.

Ashley Niles

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