Scaling and root planing are two dental procedures that are typically performed together. The purpose of these procedures is to treat and prevent periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease. Nearly half of the American population suffers from some degree of gum disease. It is one of the most common oral health conditions.
The good news is that gum disease is treatable and even preventable. If you brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and go to the dentist twice a year, you may be doing enough to prevent gum disease. But some patients require more extensive dental care to treat gum disease and keep it from returning. Scaling and root planing can be applied to resolve the gum disease.. How often do you need scaling and root planing? It depends on the situation.
What is Scaling?
Scaling is the process of removing hardened plaque that has built up on the teeth over time. When plaque hardens it forms calculus that settles along the gum line and under the gums. Special dental tools are required to remove this hard mineralized bacteria, but it can be done. This is the first step in the treatment for gum disease.
What is Root Planing?
Root planing is the process of smoothing the surface of the tooth roots under the gums. The purpose is to provide an even surface for the gum tissue to adapt to. When the gums sit flush against the roots of the teeth there is a minimal gap and a slippery surface so that the plaque can’t easily collect under the gums. This allows effective cleaning with your home care and at your regular office cleaning visits
Is Once Enough?
For some patients one scaling and root planing procedure may be enough to clear up gum disease and prevent it from coming back, especially if the patient makes an effort to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing. But for other patients the procedure may not be sufficient to resolve the infections that are destroying the support of the teeth. If the remaining issues are not treated with additional therapy, the infection will continue to progress, potentially leading to tooth loosening, tooth shifting, and even tooth loss. Additional therapy may involve antibiotics and more definitive treatment including potential minor surgical therapy.
Recommended Schedule for Scaling and Root Planing
Patient’s needs can vary and may require an individualized schedule for periodontal treatment.
- Scaling and root planing is treatment to deal with active gum infection. It is not the same as your general cleaning. A general cleaning (prophylaxis) is applied to maintain gum and tooth health. Scaling and root planing is applied to address active gum (periodontal) infection and arrest further the disease process. Typically, local anesthesia is need to allow comfortable and effective treatment. If the infection resolves, you would then have your regular general cleanings performed. If the infection returns, the scaling and root planing treatment may be performed again or alternative therapy would need to be explored.
- Once the infection issues are resolved, a general cleaning (prophylaxis) program would be instituted based on the patient risk factors:
- Minimal Risk: Cleanings every 6 months
- Higher Risk: Cleanings every 3 months, sometimes alternating cleanings between the general dentist and the periodontal specialist
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
There are some criteria that may put you at a higher risk for gum disease, meaning you may need more frequent treatment.
- Inadequate Home Care. Patients who do not brush or floss effectively or often enough allow the bacteria to collect around the gums and teeth resulting in gum disease.
- Genetics. A family history of gum disease may indicate a greater risk that you will also develop gum disease issues.
- Diabetes. Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease because there are higher levels of sugar in the saliva. The better your diabetes is managed, the lower your risk.
- Age. The older you are, the higher your risk of developing gum disease as your immune system changes.
- Smoking. Smoking restricts blood flow to the gum tissue, making it more susceptible to infection.
- Teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth and have an underlying gum disease, you can loose tooth support at a faster rate
- Stress. High levels of stress can affect the immune system and make it more difficult for the body to fight infections.
- Medications. Some medications affect oral health, causing dry mouth, overgrowth of gums, or other issues that put patients at a higher risk for gum disease.
Progressive Periodontics and Implant Dentistry Provides Treatment for Gum Disease
Gum disease is much easier to treat if it is diagnosed early. If you go to the dentist regularly, your dentist will identify the early signs and provide treatment. If you have concerns that you have gum disease issues, Progressive Periodontics and Implant Dentistry can diagnose, treat, and prevent gum disease through a wide range of periodontal services, including scaling and root planing.
Call 732-389-3400 to schedule an appointment at our Eatontown office or 732-364-2025 for our Howell office. No referral is needed. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you maintain excellent oral health.