Root Planing and Scaling

Most people are aware of the need for regular dental hygiene. They will brush their teeth at least once each day, floss and even rinse with anti-bacterial agents. Many people will also schedule a regular cleaning visit to their dentist or hygienist, during which time plaque and tartar are removed from their teeth and gum areas. Unfortunately not everyone is able to care for their teeth in such a fashion, which allows for the build up of plaque and tartar at the gum line, and also for cavities or decay to grow, which all work together to cause gum disease. Gum disease leads to a condition called Periodontal Disease, and this is the leading cause of tooth death and loss.

Periodontal Disease irritates the gum tissue all the way down to the bone, this eventually causes the bone to shrink, which presents a gap in which debris and bacteria thrive. The resulting infection spreads into the tooth, which is a living organism, and though it will work to fight the infection, it usually succumbs and dies. The loss of teeth does not simply indicate more difficulty with chewing tough or fibrous foods, it also means a weakened jaw bone and the likelihood of further infection and more lost teeth. Additionally, any time a tooth is lost the remaining teeth will shift due to the appearance of the space, and this causes a person’s bite pattern to change. While this does not sound serious, the bite pattern of each person develops along with their growth and the appearance of their permanent teeth. This means the muscles and joints of their jaw, neck and head are trained in very specific ways, and even tiny alterations in the pattern can cause head, neck and jaw pain as well as frequent headaches and new behaviors such as teeth grinding and clenching. Clearly it is important to fight gum and Periodontal diseases in any way possible. The easiest method is through regular dental hygiene practices. Additionally, at least one formal cleaning a year will easily reduce and identify any problems. If a patient has a cleaning only to discover they all ready have gum disease, it is imperative that they work with their dentist or hygienist to develop a plan to address the issue.

If the gum disease is at a moderate level the dental professional will probably employ such measures as root planing and scaling. The procedures will use small scraping tools to clean between the teeth and gum tissue of the patient, addressing the teeth all the way down to their roots. Most patients will require the application of a numbing agent during these procedures as they will be dealing with tender and usually infected areas that may be painful to touch. A dentist or hygienist will also traditionally apply antibiotic materials in the pockets between the teeth and gum tissue which will speed healing and fight any existing infection. This will require the patient to return within a week to have the material removed and the treatment examined. Most people will see their gum disease eliminated following root planing and scaling procedures, but they will need to keep a firm hold on their oral hygiene in order to ensure that the gums and teeth remain in top condition.