One of the most important things we can do as part of our oral hygiene routine is to take care of our gums to prevent gum disease. However, sometimes even though we try, it can still develop. When it does, that doesn't mean it is the end of the world. If caught early, there is a cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing that can help stop gum disease progression and help to get your gums healthy again before any severe damage occurs.
What is Scaling and Root Planning?
Scaling and root planing is sometimes called a deep cleaning, thanks to how the process works. Dentists use tools to clean tartar, debris, and bacteria off of the teeth and along the gum line and in the pockets of the gums where they have started to develop gum disease.
This procedure is typically longer and more intense than a standard cleaning but is done to halt the progression of gum disease in its early stages. Patients are given an anesthetic that is usually put on or injected into the affected area so that the actual procedure is pain-free.
The cleaning is done either by a traditional dental scraper or a more modern ultrasonic device that loosens tartar and debris and gently cleans it away from the teeth and gums. Depending on how deep the cleaning goes, it can go from around the tooth to deep in the gum line to try and rid the gums of buildup.
After the procedure, there may be some mild discomfort and sensitivity, but this should go away within a few days. Your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions, an oral rinse, and recommendations for toothpaste and other oral hygiene products.
When Should Scaling and Root Planing Be Done?
While your dentist normally recommends the procedure, if you notice symptoms of gum disease you may want to enquire about the procedure.
Things like sensitivity, soreness, swelling, bleeding gums, redness or puffiness, blood when you brush your teeth, and difficulty eating are signs of gum disease. That’s when it is most important to see your dentist about doing something to manage it before it gets too severe.
It is important to note that while scaling and root planing is effective at halting the progression of mild to moderate gum disease, it could come back without proper care. Also, if the gum disease is too advanced, scaling and root planing may not be enough; it may even require surgery to correct.