Scaling and root planing are non-surgical procedures performed at dental clinics. They are the best ways of dealing with advanced or chronic periodontitis (gum disease). This professional cleaning by a dentist removes the built-up plaque and tartar below the gumline that we simply cannot reach by ourselves. If left untreated, bacteria in pockets along the gums can release toxins that trigger inflammation, causing gums to become red and prone to bleeding.
What is scaling? What is root planing?
Scaling is a treatment that removes plaque, toxins, and tartar from the surface of the teeth and roots. Root planing smooths out the surfaces of teeth below the gumline. This makes it more difficult for plaque, bacteria, and tartar to stick to teeth in the future. It also expedites the healing process to allow gums to return to normal after your treatment at a dental clinic.
Do I always need teeth scaling and root planing?
Teeth scaling is often provided alongside your regular dental checkups. In the UK, 46% of visits to the dentist consist of an examination, scaling, and polishing. In New York state, 86% of dentists recommended a scale and polish every six months, even for patients at low risk of gum disease.
However, according to recent research, this particular treatment may not be necessary every time. A Cochrane Library review looked at 1711 dental patients without severe gum disease over 12 and 36 months. They found little to no difference in tartar levels between patients who received scaling every 6 or 12 months and those who did not receive any scaling. The recipients of scaling did, however, report that their teeth “felt cleaner” after the treatment.
According to Dr. Stephen Lim of Manhattan, New York, dentists are sometimes advised by medical consulting firms to offer deep cleanings as a way of increasing profits. Others offer bonuses or commission to hygienists who perform these services as a monetary incentive to overtreat patients.
When is scaling and root planing necessary?
It is important to remember that scaling and root planing are essential treatments when gum disease is present. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends deep cleanings when at least one gum pocket is at least 4mm deep. A professional dentist will measure your gums to assess whether this treatment is necessary.root planing dental
The effects of ignoring gum disease can be dire; teeth may become loose and even fall out. Patients can also lose parts of the underlying bone structure, causing visible gaps in the gums between the teeth. Once gum disease advances to this stage, you may require dental visits, including scaling and root planing, much more often than the average person.
If your gums are healthy, they should be attached firmly to the teeth with a small 2-3mm pocket. If your dentist measures these pockets to be deeper, gingivitis and/or periodontitis are beginning to set in and scaling is necessary. Ask your dentist about gum disease at your next checkup and discuss what steps, if any, need to be taken.