Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing (Deep Cleaning)

Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing, also known as a deep cleaning, is done when patients are showing signs of periodontal disease.  Periodontal disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and calculus on the tooth and root surface which leads to inflammation of the gums and loss of the supporting structures around your teeth.  Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to pain, swelling, bleeding gums, bad breath and loss of teeth. 

The Scaling and Root Planing Treatment Process

Scaling and root planing is done over the course of 2-3 appointments.  Half of the mouth (usually divided into left and right) is cleaned at each appointment, and you are often numbed so the hygienist can painlessly clean below the gum to remove bacteria and calculus buildup.  In some cases, an antibiotic agent such as Arestin is placed around the tooth to help kill any remaining bacteria and aid in healing. A third appointment is scheduled to check on healing, evaluate home care, polish the teeth, and fine scale any remaining tartar, calculus, and stain.

Often, scaling and root planing is enough to regain control of the health of the gums. There are various factors that can result in poor healing or continued signs of infection in the gum tissue. In these cases a patient may be referred to a periodontist, a specialist in gum disease, for further treatment. The periodontist can perform periodontal surgery to further treat these problem areas.

Management of Periodontal Disease

Once periodontal treatment is completed, it is very important to maintain good brushing and flossing habits and see your dental hygienist for cleanings on a regular basis. Patients with a history of periodontal disease have a higher risk of further periodontal disease progression and tooth loss. Without good home care and regular maintenance with your hygienist, periodontal disease can progress leading to the need to repeat the procedure, and/or tooth loss. Patients with a history of periodontal disease are typically seen for cleanings 3-4 times per year so that we can keep bacteria under control and catch signs of progression early. 

Periodontal Disease and Your General Health

Periodontal disease has been shown to affect your general overall health.  Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and premature birth among other health concerns. Eliminating the bacteria associated with periodontal disease and the related infection can dramatically increase your quality of life and help you to control your general health.