Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a common problem for adults that increases with age. In the US, 47.2% of adults over 30 experience this issue, and in the over 65 population this number rises to 70.1%. Gum disease can be highly damaging to teeth and if not treated properly, can erode the underlying bone and cause chronic infections.
To remedy the problem, a dentist will perform scaling and root planing. This is best done early but can also treat chronic periodontitis. At a dental clinic, your dentist will remove plaque and tartar using special instruments to scrape below the gumline. The goal is to remove built-up material and allow the gums to adhere properly to the teeth.
Scaling is the process of removing all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gumline, cleaning all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. After this, your dentist will then begin root planing, smoothing out your teeth roots to reattach your gums to your teeth.
10 Expert Tips to Manage Gum Health After Scaling & Root Planing
These procedures reduce inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums in the long term. However, proper aftercare is important for managing your gum health after the treatment. Here are ten expert tips to properly manage your gum health after scaling and root planing.
1. Expect some discomfort and/or bleeding
After teeth scaling or root planing at a dental clinic, it’s normal to experience some pain. This will usually resolve itself in 4 to 24 hours after the procedure. Some mild bleeding of the gums may persist. If this does not stop in 48 hours, call your dentist for further instruction.
2. Limit eating when possible
It is important to not eat any meals or snacks until anesthetics have worn off. If you eat while you are still numb, you run the risk of biting and injuring your cheek or tongue. Foods that are acidic or chewy should be avoided after scaling. Food that has small bits that can become lodged in the gums may also interrupt your healing.
3. Use a saltwater rinse to promote healing
Teeth scaling can leave gums slightly inflamed and bleeding. A dentist may recommend an at-home saltwater rinse to soothe gums and clear away pieces of food after meals. To make the rinse, dissolve a single tablespoon of regular salt into a warm glass of water. Swish the solution around your mouth gently after a meal or snack. Do this up to six times per day while your gums heal.
4. Refrain from smoking
Dentists will generally advise that patients avoid smoking for at least 1-2 weeks after teeth scaling. This is because smoking has also been shown to limit the body’s ability to fight infection. Smoking can also increase pain after surgery and cause blood to receive less oxygen.
5. Avoid over-exerting yourself
On the day that you visit a dental clinic for teeth scaling, you should avoid strenuous exercise. It’s best to go home and rest if possible. Returning to activities too soon may increase pain and bleeding as well as slow your recovery.
6. If necessary, take a mild analgesic
Dental clinics will recommend taking over the counter painkillers for up to 3-5 days after your teeth scaling. Ibuprofen (Advil) can be used to reduce swelling, or you may alternate with Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for more pain coverage. Take medications as instructed by your dentist and as printed on the label.
7. Be gentle while brushing
Given that you may be experiencing pain post-scaling, it’s a good idea to brush extra gently for several days afterwards. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Firm bristled toothbrushes and aggressive teeth brushing can negatively affect the sensitive gums.
8. Floss with wax-coated floss
Flossing is always important but using a wax-coated floss can be gentler on the gums. Unwaxed floss may exacerbate bleeding after a teeth scaling. Your dentist may recommend a water pick if the treatment has made flossing temporarily too uncomfortable.
9. If prescribed, take your antibiotics
In certain cases, a dentist will prescribe antibiotics after scaling and root planing. If this is the case, it is important to take the pills as prescribed and finish the entire batch to make sure they are effective.
10. Maintain a proper dental checkup schedule
Be certain that you schedule regular visits to your dentist after a scaling or root planing. You may need more than one visit for the entire treatment. Following this, regular checkups will help prevent tartar buildup and your dentist can monitor your gum health.
For more tips like these visit our blog at Smile Well Dental. We write on a variety of different topics to help you keep your teeth healthy and clean. If you haven’t visited your dentist in a while for teeth scaling and root planing, contact us at 778-340-2897 to book your next visit. We’re currently taking new patients.