Scaling and Root Planing: What You Need to Know

Health & Fitness

Root scaling and root planning are two procedures that may be performed by your dentist as part of regular dental hygiene care. Both procedures help to remove plaque and tartar from beneath your gums, which is important for preventing gum disease. But there are some differences between the two – let’s take a closer look at each one. Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the tooth roots so they can no longer trap bacteria or grow new plaque.

It is usually done in combination with another dental cleaning procedure called deep cleaning, which involves removing the surface layers of calculus or tartar above the teeth; deep cleaning alone does not remove bacteria-causing deposits below the gum line. Root scaling may also be referred to as supra-gingival root planing or just scaling.

What is Root Scaling?

Root scaling is a cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the tooth roots (below the gum line). It is done either by hand scalers or by ultrasonic instruments that act as vibrating/pulsating scalers. Scaling and root planing is a more advanced procedure, so there is a higher risk of gingival recession (when the gum line recedes from the teeth).

It is typically performed only when there is a lot of plaque or tartar buildup, especially if you have a combination of periodontal disease and gingivitis. Root scaling is usually done when there is periodontal disease, extensive plaque, or gingivitis, when periodontal surgery is indicated. It is performed when there is a loss of the space between the tooth and the gum, which causes the gum tissue to become very narrow.

How is Root Scaling performed?

Root scaling is sometimes done under local anesthesia; otherwise, it’s a completely non-surgical procedure. During root scaling, your dentist will use special instruments to remove the plaque and tartar from below your gumline. Once all of the bacteria-trapping deposits are removed, it’s easier for your gum tissue to re-grow to a healthy state.

For patients with more extensive damage to the gums, your dentist may use a scalpel to scrape off the damaged gum tissue and then seal the area with a special material. This helps to reduce bleeding, infection, and pain. Depending on the severity of the damage, scaling under local anesthesia may be recommended.

What is Root Planing?

Root planing is a basic cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the tooth roots below the gum line. It is also sometimes performed with a rotary instrument that acts as a rotating/pulsating scaler. Similar to root scaling, root planing does not require anesthesia, although it can be done with local anesthesia.

It’s also less invasive than root scaling, and has a lower risk of gingival recession – though it still may cause some gum irritation. Root planing is used for patients who have less plaque and tartar buildup, but who still suffer from conditions like gingivitis. It’s performed at regular intervals (typically every 6-12 months) to reduce the risk of periodontal disease.

Why is Root Planing Important for Dental Health?

Root scaling and root planing are essentially the first steps in treating more serious gum disease. These procedures help to remove plaque and tartar so they can no longer trap bacteria or grow new plaque. They also stimulate the gums to re-grow and become healthier.

Root planing is less extensive than periodontal surgery, but it’s still important for preventing and treating gum disease. It’s important to have regular dental checkups and cleanings, especially if you are at risk for gum disease. Your dentist or hygienist will perform regular scaling and root planing procedures to remove any plaque or tartar buildup that may be present.

How Often Should You Have Root Planing Performed?

Root scaling and root planing are typically done as part of a regular dental cleaning – most likely every 6-12 months. If your gums are sensitive, or you have heavy or persistent plaque buildup, your dentist may recommend performing the procedures every 3-6 months. Depending on the extent of gum disease and damage, your dentist may recommend a more frequent schedule.

Conclusion

Root scaling and root planing are two procedures that help to treat and prevent gum disease. Both procedures remove plaque and tartar from beneath the gums, which is important because they can no longer trap bacteria or grow new plaque once they’ve been removed.

Root scaling is a more advanced procedure that can be used when there is a lot of plaque or tartar buildup.  It is usually done when there is periodontal disease, extensive plaque, or gingivitis, when periodontal surgery is indicated. Root planing is a basic cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from beneath the gums, which is important for preventing gum disease.

References:

1-Pain After Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing

Publishing Date: 2 January 2015

https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.1999.0303

2-The effect of root planing as compared to that of surgical treatment

Publishing Date: November 1984

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-051X.1984.tb01315.x

Tags: gum disease laser treatment, scaling and root planing, teeth whitening service

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