If you have been diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease, your dentist will likely require you to undergo a deep cleaning. A far more in-depth procedure than a routine professional cleaning, you will likely need both scaling and root planing if Dr. Annette Van Natta suggests a deep cleaning. This is often necessary if plaque and tartar are left on the teeth, irritating the gums and building up on your teeth, resulting in discomfort and disease all at once. If your dentist or hygienist has discovered that you do in fact have gum disease, she may clean your teeth by scaling and polishing them. What is scaling and root planing, exactly? Let’s go over both terms before we go any further:
- ScalingConsidered the most common nonsurgical way to treat gum disease, your dentist or hygienist may recommend scraping the teeth in order to keep the disease from spreading. Using an instrument, your dentist or hygienist will “scrape” the teeth and then polish them, freeing them of any plaque buildup or other bacteria.
- Root PlanningDuring this portion of the procedure your dentist will scrape the root surface of the teeth in order to decrease inflammation of the gum tissue. She will use an instrument to smooth out any rough areas, which will in turn get rid of any plaque or biofilm that has developed on the teeth.
In a nutshell, scaling will remove all dental tartar from the surface of the teeth and root planing will smooth out the root surfaces.
What to Expect
A deep cleaning is considered the first step in periodontal therapy, which is the treatment method used to remedy gum disease. Depending on how advanced the gum disease is, the patient may experience some level of discomfort. If this is the case, your dentist may opt to numb the area using a local anesthetic. It is our intention to ensure the scaling and root planing – or deep cleaning – process is as comfortable as possible for the patient. If you have any questions about what to expect or about the process in itself, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Van Natta’s dental office.
The procedure will vary in length depending on the patient and stage of gum disease. With deeper pockets and rougher root surfaces, the scaling and root planing procedure may be broken down into several different appointment. Again, this will be left up to Dr. Van Natta and her team.
- Some level of discomfort, depending on how far developed the gum disease is
- The teeth may be more sensitive to temperature after deposits are removed
- Some bleeding is normal due to inflamed and infected gums
- Ibuprofen is often recommended to help alleviate any discomfort
- When brushing and flossing, be very careful and as gentle as possible
- Your dentist may suggest salt water or chlorhexidine rinses