Periodontitis, or gum disease, affects nearly half of all American adults. Fortunately, Your Community Dental has a two-step plan in place: scaling and root planing.
Gum disease is the inflammation of the tissue around your gum that affects your teeth and the bones surrounding your teeth.
“If you don’t brush and floss teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, promoting bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue,” states WebMD.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
· Bad breath that won’t go away
· Red or swollen gums
· Tender or bleeding gums
· Painful chewing
· Loose teeth
· Sensitive teeth
· Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
Your dental professional always checks your gum health during a cleaning and will measure pockets around each tooth and may take an x-ray to look for bone loss. Healthy gums attach to the tooth 1 to 3 mm below the gumline and the tissue fits tightly around your teeth, preventing plaque from residing below your gums.
“While everyone experiences plaque and bacteria buildup on their teeth, left unchecked, the bacteria that lives in the plaque will eventually cause gum disease,” said Your Community Dental’s Dr. Andrew Troupes, DMD. “Having your teeth cleaned regularly isn’t just about appearances. It’s about your health.”
When a person has gum disease, the tissue loosens, enabling plaque to fill in pockets below the gum. If pockets reach 4 mm or more, your dentist may recommend dental scaling to carefully remove plaque from below the gumline.
“If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gum line, a professional cleaning should do,” states the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website. “If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, however, scaling and root planing may be needed.”
Scaling and root planing sounds like a dangerous outdoor activity for adventurous thrill-seekers. In reality, scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning measure that helps fight back against gum disease. This is a nonsurgical procedure to treat your teeth and gums against plaque, bacteria, and tartar deposits.
What is scaling and root planing?
The scaling process targets the area below the gumline and along the roots using an ultrasonic scaling device and/or manual instruments to remove plaque and tartar. Scaling can also involve delivering an antimicrobial agent into the pocket to treat and reduce bacteria.
Next, root planing goes deeper to remove cementum and surface dentin, smoothing out affected root areas in order to decrease gum tissue inflammation and allow your gums to reattach to your teeth. A properly planed root surface helps fight against bacteria, tartar, and plaque while also promoting healing.
Why should I consider this procedure?
Periodontitis causes sensitive, inflamed gums that often bleed and cause bad breath. Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath — not just the kind of bad breath that comes from eating garlic or anchovies but the kind of bad breath that is an indication of disease and decay.
Scaling and root planing is the best solution when a regular cleaning cannot remove plaque trapped in deep gum pockets. Left untreated, gum disease leads to tooth and bone loss. Seeking treatment early on means you will have a much higher rate of tooth-survival.
How long does the procedure take?
To fully remove all plaque, bacteria, and tartar from your teeth and root surfaces, scaling and root planing usually takes more than one appointment to complete. Depending on your treatment plan, a moderate case may take one appointment, but most treatments divide the affected areas into sections per appointment.
“Our goal is to make each part of the procedure efficient and effective for our patients,” said Dr. Troupes. “We want to address the health concerns caused by gum disease as well as keep our patients comfortable.”
Your Community Dental requires follow-ups to ensure that the gums are becoming firm and pink again and that bleeding is reduced or completely gone. Severe cases of periodontitis may require surgical intervention, but the good news is that scaling and root planing will lessen the amount of surgery, if ultimately needed.
Will it hurt?
If you’ve attended regular dental cleanings, your dental hygienist has already been scaling your teeth and gumline regularly to remove plaque and tartar. For this procedure however, dental hygienists often administer an anesthetic to minimize any discomfort since it is a deeper, more extensive type of cleaning that goes below the gum line.
“After a deep cleaning, you may have pain for a day or two and teeth sensitivity for up to a week,” states the ADA’s Mouth Healthy website. “Your gums also may be swollen, feel tender, and bleed. To prevent infection, control pain, or help you heal, your dentist may prescribe a pill or mouth rinse. Your dentist may also insert medication (subantimicrobial-dose doxycycline) directly into the pock that was cleaned.”
The team at Your Community Dental is happy to talk to you about your concerns regarding pain and options for anesthetics during the procedure as well as how to proper aftercare can reduce pain and sensitivity. Taking an over-the-counter painkiller and eating a diet of soft food for a few days typically is enough to address any post-procedure pain.
Is there anything I need to tell my dentist?
If you have a compromised immune system and are at increased risk for infection due to complications such as heart disease, liver disease, or HIV, be sure to discuss your entire health history with your dentist. Have you ever had a dentist ask if it has been recommended for you to take antibiotics before dental procedures? Certain procedures that dislodge dental bacteria from the mouth may introduce that bacteria to your bloodstream. Pre-treatment with antibiotics may be advised.
Also note that certain factors increase the risk for periodontal disease:
· Poor oral hygiene
· Crooked teeth
· Underlying immuno-deficiencies
· Fillings that have become defective
· Taking medications that cause dry mouth
· Bridges that no longer fit properly
· Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives
A word about smoking — according to the Center for Disease Control, smokers have twice the risk for gum disease compared to nonsmokers; the more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease; the longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease; treatments for gum disease may not work as well for people who smoke; tobacco use (cigarettes, pies, smokeless tobacco) in any form raises your risk for gum disease.
Scaling and root planing success greatly depends on continued patient aftercare. Recovery can take a few days, during which time you may experience sensitivity.
· Replace your toothbrushes.
· Avoid smoking.
· Eat a healthy and balanced diet (soft foods are advised for a few days).
· Properly brush, floss, and use mouthwash, as recommended.
· Visit us at Your Community Dental for routine checkups.
We will schedule a follow up visit after your procedure to evaluate how your gums have healed and measure pocket depth. These findings will allow us to determine what course of treatment should follow.
If the team at Your Community Dental recommends scaling and root planing, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment. We ensure that the result is going to be a fresher, happier, healthier smile!