How Does Scaling and Root Planing Help Treat Gum Disease?

How Does Scaling and Root Planing Help Treat Gum Disease?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: October 23rd, 2023 Category:

Gum disease is very treatable. And it all begins with scaling and root planing.

Gum disease affects two in five adults in the U.S. Gum disease or periodontitis can range from mild to severe, with the stage of the condition dictating treatment.

If you’ve been diagnosed with early-stage gum disease or gingivitis, your dentist will propose a two-pronged treatment: scaling and root planing. But even in later stages, this procedure can be beneficial in managing gum disease. 

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease results from an abnormal buildup of plaque and tartar. If plaque (a sticky coating of bacteria) and tartar (a hardened substance) aren’t regularly cleared away, your gums will become infected and inflamed. 

The first signs of gum disease are red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushing and flossing. Without treatment at this stage, gum disease can progress to noticeable gum recession (gaps between the teeth and gums), bad breath, and extreme sensitivity to hot or cold. The teeth may feel loose and even potentially fall out.

Poor dental hygiene habits are the main culprits in gum disease. If bacteria and plaque aren’t removed with brushing and flossing daily, gum disease can develop over time. Tobacco use and certain chronic conditions such as diabetes also raise the risk of gum disease.

What is scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing go beyond a routine dental cleaning to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar on your teeth, roots, and gums. As mentioned earlier, tooth loss is possible if gum disease is left untreated. The first step in preventing tooth loss is scaling and root planing. And the treatment is effective. One study concluded this non-surgical therapy successfully treated chronic gum disease even if it had advanced beyond gingivitis. 

Local anesthesia is given before the procedure, which is performed in two steps. You may need more than one visit depending on the severity of the gum disease and the number of teeth to be treated. 

Scaling. During scaling, your dentist will remove tartar above and below the gum line with a vibrating scaler. A spray of water into the gum pocket then washes away the plaque and tartar. Lastly, a manual scaler and a curette (another scraping instrument) will clean off any remaining tartar bits.

Root planing. After carefully moving your gums aside, your dentist will chip away at the tartar attached to the tooth root. The root will be evened out so it can no longer attract bacteria. The gums will re-attach to your tooth. An antibiotic medication may be injected into the gum pockets. 

Caring for your teeth after scaling and root planing

Your teeth and gums will be slightly sore and sensitive for a few days. Any discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medications. Your dentist will give detailed instructions, but you can follow these measures to ensure a speedy recovery.

Take antibiotics. To prevent an infection, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics or antimicrobial mouthwash. Take as directed for the specified period.

Brush gently. Although you can brush your teeth afterward, go gently around the treatment site. You can rinse with warm water and salt, too.

Eat soft foods. Eat soft foods to minimize pain and promote healing. Avoid hard, chewy, and spicy foods that can irritate the gums. 

After completing the scaling and root planing procedure, your dentist will decide if further treatment is needed. But chances are incredibly high that the procedure will be successful. If you experience excessive bleeding or pain, contact your dentist immediately.

Time to take care of your gums

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Cheyenne, WY, location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your gums for any signs of inflammation and start treatment. Don’t live near our Cheyenne, WY, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Cheyenne, WY
7112 Commons Circle
Cheyenne, WY 82009