What is Scaling and Root Planning?

Scaling and root planning or a deep cleaning” is a non-surgical periodontal therapy that removes accessible calculus (tartar), bacterial toxins, and etiological agents that cause inflammation to the gum tissue and surrounding bone deeper pockets, inflammation leading to further loss of bone and soft tissue. The goal of scaling and root planning is to eliminate disease and return the supporting structures of the teeth to a healthy state that can be maintained by home care and professional periodontal maintenance appointments.

The procedure may be done in one or multiple appointments depending on extent and the severity of the disease process. Scaling and root planning begins by first administering local anesthetic to numb the teeth and the surrounding gum tissues so that you are comfortable during the procedure. Special dental instruments are used to remove the calculus (tartar) and plaque from above and below the gum line. In many cases, a subgingival irrigation can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums that can help reduce oral bacteria.

During or following scaling and root planning therapy, Dr. Goggin may recommend the gum pockets are treated with an antibiotic therapy in the periodontal pocket after scaling and root planing.  This will soothe irritation and promote a faster healing response after therapy. It may also be recommended that you use desensitizing medicaments including the use of fluoride due to the increase in root exposure after healing/shrinkage of your gum tissues.

In some situations a fine scale’ will be recommended. This is often necessary when there is a significant amount of calculus accumulation and inflammation prior to the initial procedure. After the initial scaling appointment, shrinkage of the tissues due to decreased inflammation allows for better access to debride root surfaces in deeper pockets. A fine scale is typically one month after your initial Scaling and Root Planning.You will return for a re-evaluation appointment about 4-6 weeks after the initial therapy. During this appointment, Dr. Goggin or her hygienist will thoroughly examine the gums to see how well the tissues have healed. In patients who respond well to initial therapy, a periodontal maintenance phase will begin. If the pockets have not healed to the expected results, more intensive treatments may be indicated. You will be informed at your re-evaluation of the recommended next steps, which may include pocket elimination surgical procedures.


Benefits of Scaling and Root Planning:

Systemic Disease Prevention: The oral bacteria that are found in periodontal infections can travel via the blood stream to other parts of the body. Research has shown that lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, low birth weight babies and other health concerns have been linked to periodontal disease.

Reduce Inflammation and Bleeding: Reducing the amount of inflammation in the oral cavity is imperative for optimal oral health. When gum pockets are inflamed and exceed 3mm, there is a greater risk of periodontal bone loss because they house more bacteria. The body’s inflammatory response to the bacteria begins to destroy gingival and bone tissue, which eventually leads to tooth loss.
Better Breath:  One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis or bad breath. Scaling and root planning helps alleviate persistent bad odor in the mouth by removing food particles and bacteria.
Cosmetic Effects: As an added bonus, if superficial stains are present on the teeth, they will be removed in the process of scaling and root planning. Teeth that once appeared stained can become shades lighter after scaling and root planning. As well, tissues that were once red and bulbous will appear much healthier leading to a more beautiful smile.

Protecting Against Tooth Loss: As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue.  This leads to tooth loss.

With help from Dr. Goggin- plus your own dedication to good oral health- you no longer have to accept tooth loss as part of getting older and should keep your teeth for a lifetime.