A bright, hearty smile can light up any room. But maintaining that beautiful, healthy smile involves more than just brushing and flossing daily. It calls for regular professional dental cleanings, including periodontal scaling and root planing.
In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of teeth scaling and root planing, answering commonly asked questions and debunking any associated myths.
What Is Dental Scaling and Root Planing?
Dental scaling and root planing, often called deep cleaning, is a two-step procedure used to treat gum disease at an early stage (gingivitis). The goal is to prevent a more severe condition called advanced gum disease (periodontitis).
The process involves the following procedures:
- Dental Scaling. This is the process of removing dental plaque and tartar, which are bacteria-laden substances, from the surface of the teeth and from below the gum line. Dental professionals use manual scaling tools or an ultrasonic device to scrape off the plaque and tartar.
- Root Planing. After dental scaling, the roots of the teeth are planed or smoothed. The root planing procedure helps remove any remaining tartar and bacteria, making it more difficult for them to accumulate again. It also creates a clean and smooth surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth, helping to reduce periodontal pocket depths (spaces between the gums and teeth).
Dental scaling and root planing can cause some discomfort, so local anesthesia is often used to numb the gums and roots of your teeth before the procedure. After the procedure, you may experience some sensitivity and gum tenderness.
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices at home after the procedure is crucial to prevent gum disease recurrence.
Benefits of Dental Scaling and Root Planing
1. Eradicates Bacteria
One of the primary benefits of this treatment is that it can effectively eradicate bacteria in the early stages of periodontal disease, preventing it from progressing further.
2. Prevents Gum Disease Progression
Without treatment, gum disease will get worse over time. Scaling and root planing can reduce the risk of gum disease progression. Severe gum disease is linked to the development of serious medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
3. Reduced Risk of Tooth Loss
Research shows that some benefits of scaling teeth include less frequent bleeding of the gums, a reduced risk of loose teeth, and, eventually, tooth loss.
4. Better Oral Hygiene
Dental scaling and root planing can help manage gum infection and remove bacterial deposits, leading to fresher breath and better oral hygiene.
5. Healthier Oral Environment
Scaling and root planing create a healthier environment in your mouth by cleaning out pockets of bacteria and smoothing the root surfaces.
6. Reduced Pockets
By reducing pockets that develop between your teeth and gums through teeth scaling and root planing, you will reduce your risk of more severe dental issues.
What Happens During Teeth Scaling and Root Planing
Here’s what you can typically expect from this dental procedure:
Before the Procedure
A dental hygienist or dentist will examine your teeth and gums to determine the extent of your gum disease. They may use a periodontal probe to measure any pockets that have formed between your teeth and gums due to gum disease.
During the Procedure
The procedure usually takes between 1-4 hours. It begins with applying local anesthesia to numb the gums and roots of your teeth. Scaling involves using specialized tools to remove plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth and beneath your gums.
During root planing, your dentist or hygienist will smooth out the rough surfaces of your tooth roots, making it more difficult for bacteria to adhere and grow.
After the Procedure
Following the procedure, it’s normal for your gums to be painful for a few days and your teeth to be sensitive for up to a week. Your gums may bleed slightly. However, you should notice that your gum tissue is less red, swollen, and puffy and should bleed less often. If you had bad breath due to gum disease, it should improve.
Over time, the healthier oral environment created by the procedure should lead to a reduction in pocket depth.
Your dentist will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your progress and ensure your gums heal properly. They may recommend further treatment, such as periodontal maintenance appointments or additional scaling and root planing if necessary.
Remember, dental scaling and root planing are part of a comprehensive treatment for gum disease. You’ll need to maintain good oral hygiene at home and have regular check-ups with your dentist to ensure your gums stay healthy.
Is Scaling of Teeth Painful?
The perception of pain or discomfort during this procedure can vary among individuals.
While the procedure can cause some discomfort, it’s not generally considered to be extremely painful. This is because local anesthesia is typically used to numb the gums and roots of your teeth during the procedure, which helps to minimize discomfort. However, it’s normal to experience some sensitivity and tenderness in the gums after the procedure. This is an expected result and should subside within a few days.
Patients with sensitive gums may find the process mildly uncomfortable. Dentists may use additional numbing agents or other techniques to enhance patient comfort during the procedure.
Ultimately, any short-term discomfort associated with dental scaling and root planing is outweighed by the long-term oral health benefits of the procedure. If you have concerns about pain or discomfort, it’s important to discuss these with your dentist before the procedure.
Are There Any Side Effects?
There can be side effects after tooth scaling and root planing. These side effects vary in severity and incidence. Here are a few you may experience:
- Bleeding or Irritation in the Gums. This might occur due to the nature of the procedure, which involves a deep cleaning procedure around the gum line.
- Swelling in the Gums Around Treated Teeth. The gums could get inflamed and swell around the area where the procedure was done.
- Tooth Sensitivity. Post-procedure, you may experience an increased sensitivity to temperature or sweet foods due to removing the protective layer of dental plaque.
- Aches, Tenderness, or Mild Pain. Some patients may feel mild discomfort, tenderness, or aches in the treated area for a short duration.
It’s not uncommon for patients to experience some discomfort after the procedure. Consequently, your dentist or periodontist may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications to alleviate the pain.
How to Care for Your Teeth After Dental Scaling and Root Planing
After undergoing a dental scaling and root planing procedure, it’s crucial to take certain steps to ensure proper healing and maintain oral health.
Here are some tips:
- Rinse Your Gums. Use warm salt water to rinse your gums. This will help soothe any discomfort and aid in the healing process.
- Be Gentle When Brushing. After the procedure, your gums may be sensitive. Be gentle when brushing your teeth to avoid causing further discomfort or disrupting the healing process.
- Wait Before Eating. Wait at least two hours before eating to allow the anesthetic to wear off and prevent any accidental injury to your mouth. Your first meal should ideally consist of soft foods.
- Use a Water Flosser. Using a water flosser can aid in cleaning the teeth without irritating the gums.
- Avoid Alcoholic Drinks. Avoid consuming alcoholic drinks for the first 48-72 hours after the procedure.
- Propping Your Head. When lying down, propping your head with pillows can help reduce pain and swelling.
Adding teeth scaling and root planing to your dental care routine can have long-lasting benefits for your oral health. It’s an effective way to reduce pocket depths and prevent the progression of gum disease. While some discomfort may be experienced during the procedure, the results are well worth it. With proper aftercare, you can ensure a speedy recovery and maintain a healthy smile. So, if you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about scheduling a dental scaling and root planing procedure.