Teeth Scaling & Root Planing: How They May Save Your Teeth

What is teeth scaling and root planing? When does it need to be done, and how can it help save your teeth? Our Edmonton dentists answer these questions and more in today's post. 

Teeth Scaling & Root Planing Procedures 

For patients with gum disease and excessive plaque buildup, our Edmonton dentists typically recommend dental scaling. During a standard teeth cleaning, we focus on the surface of the tooth. Dental scaling goes much deeper. In this post, we'll provide in-depth explanations of both teeth scaling and root planing so you can prepare for your appointment. 

Teeth Scaling

If you've never had this procedure done before, naturally you'll have some questions. The first one will likely be, "What is a scaling process?"

Also known as dental scaling, conventional periodontal therapy or non-surgical periodontal therapy, this common dental cleaning procedure takes place below the gum line and is designed to remove plaque buildup. While still an outpatient procedure, it does beyond the general cleaning you'll usually receive when you come in for your regular checkup.

You may also hear your dentist refer to this process of scaling and root planing teeth as a deep cleaning. The dentist or hygienist may use manual instruments, ultrasonic instruments, or both. 

If an ultrasonic scaling device is used, sonic vibrations will eliminate plaque bacteria and tartar buildup from around the teeth and beneath the gum line. A dental professional can do the same thing with a dental scaler, or use the scaler in combination with the ultrasonic device to remove bacteria particles. 

Root Planing

During this second step in the process, the dental hygienist or dentist will perform a detailed scaling of the root surfaces to smooth out rough areas. 

When root surfaces are smooth, it becomes more difficult for plaque, bacteria and tartar to attach underneath the gum line. Root planing reduces inflammation of the gum tissue, allowing your gums to heal and more firmly reattach themselves to your teeth. 

Your dentist may administer medicine directly into the affected area during the procedure to prevent infection. You'll need to book a follow-up appointment with your dentist after your deep cleaning. 

When do I need teeth scaling and root planing?

If your dentist sees signs of chronic periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend teeth scaling and root planing to stop this condition from further harming your oral health and to protect your gums. 

Plaque contains bacteria that settle on and underneath the gum line, causing your gums to pull away from your teeth and leading to chronic periodontal disease. Large pockets develop between the teeth and gums, where more bacteria can grow. Eventually, it hardens into calculus and tartar that you'll be unable to brush away with your toothbrush. This can also lead to gum pain and associated dental emergencies such as those listed below.

That's why it's important to floss regularly and get to all those spots between your teeth and around your gums that your toothbrush can't. 

Left untreated, chronic periodontal disease can lead to: 

  • Loose teeth
  • Moving teeth and misalignment 
  • Bone and tissue loss 
  • Tooth loss 

What are the benefits of teeth scaling and root planing?

When it comes to treating chronic periodontal disease and related symptoms, our dentists at Emergency Dental Clinics often recommend teeth scaling and root planing. This is often required to reduce the pocket gap between your teeth and gums. This decreases your risk of experiencing bone, tissue and tooth loss associated with advanced gum disease. 

Is scaling of teeth painful?

Risks in teeth scaling and root planing are typically minimal. You may experience some mild sensitivity and pain for a few days following this deep cleaning procedure, in addition to tenderness in your gums. 

If your dentist determines that you may be at risk for infection after the procedure, you may receive a prescription for an antibiotic or special mouthwash to use for a few days or weeks. 

If you experience any of these symptoms after dental scaling and root planing, contact us right away:

  • You develop a fever
  • Gum pain worsens
  • The area doesn't heal as expected 

Most patients who experience side effects as a result of this procedure usually notice them clear up within a few weeks. If they don't, contact your dentist.  

What can I expect after teeth scaling?

You may need to make more than one trip to our office to have the tooth scaling and root planing procedure completed. Our dentists may recommend you return for a follow-up appointment to confirm the procedure worked and that no complications such as infection are inhibiting your recovery. 

If the pockets between your teeth and gums didn't shrink, the dentist may recommend returning for another procedure. 

After the first teeth scaling and root planing, we recommend resuming your normal at-home oral care routine, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. Also make sure to eat a healthful, balanced diet and see your regular dentist for dental checkups to prevent gum disease from returning. 

In fact, your regular dentist may recommend a periodontal maintenance cleaning schedule, returning for regular cleanings every 3 to 4 months as opposed to your standard cleanings every 6 months. 

Are you experiencing consistent gum pain or other signs of periodontal disease? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can examine your gums and recommend treatment options.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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