Scaling and root planing are two periodontal procedures that are typically performed together for the treatment of gum disease. Periodontal diseases are mainly a result of bacterial infection of the gum and supporting bone tissue. The bacterial buildup around the teeth is called plaque and calculus. In the early stages, gingivitis occurs where the gums can become swollen or red and may bleed. If it progresses, periodontitis can occur where the gums pull away from the teeth or recede and the infection causes bone loss. If periodontal disease goes untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and significant oral and other health problems. 47.2% of adults in the US 30 years or older have some form of periodontal disease. That risk increases to 70.1% of adults 65 years or older.
Scaling and root planing are typically the first steps in treating gum disease. If your dentist or periodontist has recommended that you undergo these procedures, you probably have some questions. How long does scaling and root planing take? What exactly do these procedures entail? Learn the answers to these questions and more about treating periodontal disease.
What is Scaling?
Scaling is the process of removing hardened plaque from the crown portion of your teeth and the roots of your teeth beneath the gums. When plaque remains on the teeth for a long period of time without being removed by brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, it hardens into bacteria-laden calculus. Calculus is more difficult to remove than plaque, requiring special tools to scrape it away above and under the gumline.
What is Root Planing?
Root planing involves smoothing the surface of the tooth roots once the plaque and calculus has been removed. Plaque and calculus cause rough, uneven spaces in the surface of the roots. Once the roots are smooth, the surface will be less likely to collect bacteria and allow the gums to heal.
How Long Do These Procedures Take?
The entire process of both scaling and root planing can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. In some cases you may have one half of your mouth cleaned in one appointment, and return for a second appointment to clean the other half. This makes the procedure shorter, but it requires two separate visits.
Does Scaling and Root Planing Hurt?
Local anesthesia is used for scaling and root planing so you won’t feel any pain. These procedures require cleaning under the gum tissue, which can be uncomfortable without any anesthesia. Any discomfort you experience after the procedure can be managed with over the counter pain medication.
How Often Will I Need Scaling and Root Planing?
If your gum disease is advanced or if it keeps returning, your dentist may need to do scaling and root planing periodically. Routine cleanings to treat and prevent gum disease is called periodontal maintenance.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
The first line of defense against gum disease is at home dental care. It is recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss your teeth once a day. This helps to remove plaque from your teeth before it can harden into calculus. If you are prone to gum disease, you may benefit from brushing and flossing your teeth more frequently, such as after each meal. Be careful not to brush too vigorously or use a hard-bristle brush because you may irritate your gums and cause them to recede.
Going to the dentist every 3 to 6 months for regular dental cleanings is another step you can take to prevent gum disease. Your dentist can remove plaque that is left behind after brushing and flossing.
Progressive Periodontics and Implant Dentistry Provides Scaling and Root Planing
Dr. Gordon at Progressive Periodontics and Implant Dentistry provides scaling and root planing and periodontal maintenance as well as other periodontal services to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Gum disease is a common condition affecting millions of people globally, but you don’t have to be one of them. Start your periodontal treatment today.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.