What is Scale and Root Planing?
What is Dental Scaling? What is Root Planing? What is Plaque? All these different terms refer to dental health and methodologies that dentists use to help you care for your teeth. Depending on your oral history, history of infections, and dental health–dentist may opt to use one of these methods to help remove hard stuck buildup from your teeth or your gums.
What is it?
Scaling and root planing is like a dental deep cleaning. Your typical dental cleaning procedure washes the surfaces of your teeth. Your dentist or hygienist do their best to remove buildup from the surfaces of your teeth. Scale and root planing delves deep, below the gumline, to help scrape plaque, tartar and bacteria from under the surface. This can be done physically, with a dental scaler and curette, wherein the tool is actually inserted into the gumline to scrape buildup. Some dentist may also use high-tech ultrasound tools in conjunction with a metal piece and a stream of water. The water will carry away the plaque for suction, and the metal tip scales away the thick material.
How did my teeth get so much plaque buildup?
Our mouths are consistently wet. We have saliva constantly produced to keep our gums and teeth moist. This creates a thin layer of moisture at all times, and as we eat food and drinks, bits of these things attach to the water. Acids, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates all attach to each other and form a slurry-like film–a home for harmful bacteria. This bacteria occupies the surface of our teeth, and eventually works its way into the gumline.
The bad news is the bacteria does not close the door behind them. Once it has entered the gumline, it often leaves a little space behind. As gum disease and infection take hold, the bacteria inflames the area, and creates space in between the tooth and gums. Your gums slowly retract creating more root exposure. The roots become brittle or decay. In this instance root planing may be used.
In a matter similar to scaling, instruments may be used to clean the root structure under the tooth, and smooth the bone surface. This attentive action often allows the newly healed tissues of the gum to reattach, closing the opening. These two procedures can be used in tandem to clean the gums, clean the root, and help the situation mend.
Does Scale and Root Planing Hurt?
It is a strange and uncomfortable feeling. It does not hurt, per se, but it is not highly enjoyable. Instruments are being inserted into your gumline to take care of the issue. Think of it as a procedure, not a massage. If your dentist is recommending it, it should be done. The small bit of discomfort may be much more helpful than painful, especially in the long run.
Scale and Root planing can help repair your gums and teeth, prevent gum disease, and restore some hygiene to your dental health. Speak with your dental care team to learn more.