Severe gum disease is often caused by excessive plaque buildup. In order to treat the gum disease, the plaque must be removed, but that isn’t something that can be done with regular brushing and flossing. In fact, even a regular professional dental cleaning might not be able to remove it. That is why your dentist may recommend a dental procedure known as scaling and root planing.
Learning More about Dental Scaling
Dental scaling, which is sometimes called a deep cleaning, is an extremely common dental procedure that is often performed on patients with moderate to severe gum disease. This dental procedure is designed to not only clean and remove plaque from the surface of your teeth and around the gum line, but also from below the gum line.
Why is Dental Scaling Needed?
Dentists will recommend that you undergo dental scaling when it appears as if plaque has built up not only around your teeth, but also below your gum line. A regular professional cleaning, which you would normally get at a routine appointment, can remove the plaque from the surface of the teeth and around the gums, but it cannot get the plaque below the gum line. Dental scaling will remove that plaque.
Why Does Plaque Build Up Below the Gum Line?
Plaque starts to accumulate below the gum line because your gums are not healthy. Healthy gums will fit snugly around your teeth which prevents plaque and bacteria from getting deep below the gum line. Unhealthy gums do not do this.
Small pockets will start to develop around your teeth if your gums are unhealthy. Bacteria and food particles can get stuck in these pockets and slowly develop into hardened plaque. If left there the hardened plaque can cause cavities, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.
What Happens During Dental Scaling?
Scaling is a relatively painless dental procedure. However, since your gums and teeth may be sensitive, your dentist will often administer a local anesthetic so you won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
Once the local anesthetic has numbed up your mouth, your dentist will start to clean your teeth. Your dentist will use one of two techniques to clean your teeth when scaling. He or she will either use a small handheld instrument, known as a scaler or curette, to remove plaque from below the gum line or he or she will use an ultrasonic instrument that will vibrate and power wash the plaque away.
What is Root Planing?
Typically, if you undergo a dental scaling, you will immediately undergo a dental procedure known as root planing. Root planing is a dental procedure that allows your dentist to smooth out the surface of your teeth from the root to the gum line.
Root planing is necessary after dental scaling because it helps your gums to heal properly. The gums will reattach better if the surface of your teeth are smoothed out.
What to Expect After Undergoing Scaling and Root Planing?
Unlike a regular professional cleaning you will be given a few instructions to follow after your scaling and root planing procedure. Some of the things you will need to do after scaling and root planing include:
- Avoid brushing and flossing the treated area for approximately 12 hours. This allows the gums to heal and prevents you from damaging your gums.
- Use an extra-soft or soft bristled toothbrush
- Regularly brush and floss your teeth in the days and weeks after the procedure
- Use a desensitizing toothpaste to help with tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is an extremely common side effect of scaling and root planing, but it usually goes away after a few weeks.
- Eat nutritious foods. Eating nutritious foods will help with the healing of your gums.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication to help with any discomfort or sensitivity caused by the scaling and root planing.
- Schedule regular appointments for routine dental cleanings
Think you need to undergo dental scaling and root planing? Call Hancock Village Dental to schedule an appointment for a routine examination. Our dentist will be able to assess your situation during the examination and determine if you need dental scaling and root planing.