Scaling and Root Planing
Here at DFW Oral Surgeons in Flower Mound, TX we want all of our patients to leave our office with a healthy mouth. A big part of keeping your mouth healthy is understanding how to keep it healthy and what can affect it in negative ways. One thing that many people don’t realize is the same bacteria that live in their mouth that causes cavities, also can infect their gums. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and even bone loss in the jaw. While those who are affected by late stage gum disease (AKA periodontal disease) cannot be cured of the condition, we can treat it and reduce the symptoms.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums by the bacteria that live in the mouth. Periodontal disease has two stages, the early stage is known as gum disease, and the late stage periodontal disease. Gum disease can be cured if we can catch the issue fast enough.
Gum disease usually starts when the patient forgets to brush and floss regularly, allowing plaque and tartar to begin building up on the surface of the teeth. Eventually, the plaque and tartar will build up on the surface of the roots of the teeth, creating a barrier between the normally flush teeth and gums. As the plaque and tartar buildup on the roots of the teeth, it begins to infect the gums, which become red, swollen and will start to bleed easily. It can be hard to know if you have gum disease because discomfort is not a common symptom of the disease. If we catch it while it is still in the early stages usually brushing and flossing along with a professional cleaning will take care of the issue over time.
Once gum disease progresses into periodontal disease, deep pockets have developed between the teeth and the gums, which we cannot reverse. The result is food particles, and bacteria will continue to fall into the pockets between the teeth and gums, reinfecting the gums repeatedly. The best way to deal with periodontal disease is with a scaling and root planing procedure.
Scaling and Root Planing Procedure
The first step in the scaling and root planing procedure is usually to apply some local anesthetic to the area that we will be working on to make sure that you remain comfortable throughout the procedure. Scaling and root planing are usually done in sections, not all at once. We perform the procedure in sections to allow healing time and to ensure that the whole mouth isn’t recovering at once.
We will then scale the teeth with a hand tool and an ultrasonic scaler. With these tools, we break up and wash away the built-up plaque and tartar. The ultrasonic scaler uses ultrasonic vibrations to break up plaque and tartar; it also has a small jet of water that we use to wash away debris.
Once all of the tartar has been removed, we will then being planing the teeth with a special instrument that makes the surface of the roots smooth. This helps your gums avoid irritation following the procedure.
John C. Shillingburg, DDS
Certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
DFW Study Club Established in 2013 by John C. Shillingburg, DDS