Root Planing and Scaling: Purpose and Procedure

Root Planing and Scaling: Purpose and Procedure

We are told that we should see our dentist twice per year for a professional cleaning and dental exam. There is a very good reason to do this, but many people do not heed this practice, and as a result many end up needing gum treatment.

Gum treatment is a generic term to describe the many procedures that might be needed for a patient suffering from gingivitis or periodontitis.

One of those procedures is root planing and scaling. During your dental visit, your dentist might do a test to determine the depths of the pockets around your teeth. Called perio charting, this test allows a dental professional to measure the space where gum tissue is receding from the tooth. The readings are a diagnostic tool to determine the condition of your overall gum health and whether additional treatment is warranted.

If it is determined that you have one or more teeth that have pocket depths that exceed the accepted standard, this could signal the onset of gum disease and your dentist might recommend root planing and scaling.

Gum disease is attributed to a build-up of plaque on the teeth and at the gum line. Plaque is a sticky substance that feeds on bacteria and the food particles that remain on the teeth throughout the day and night. Excellent oral hygiene habits will help keep plaque to a minimum.

However, once plaque has had a chance to harden, it becomes calculus. At this point a professional cleaning is the only thing that will remove it. Bleeding or swollen gums may be an early indicator that you could be suffering from gum disease and further treatment is needed.

Root planing and scaling is basically a deep cleaning. It is similar to the cleaning you might receive every six months, but the dentist goes further to scrape the roots below the gum line to remove the bacteria and calculus that have built up. This is the scaling aspect.

The area below the gum line might contain irregularities that work to trap particles. With planing, the dentist will smooth the root to try to prevent this in the future.

Once our dentist has completed root planing and scaling, you can return to good dental health provided you continue to follow the rules of daily flossing and brushing. Also, make sure to keep those check-up appointments by calling the Dallas office of Dr. Philip R. Kozlow at 972-458-2464.