Scaling and root planning is frequently referred to as ‘deep cleaning’. Deep cleaning is the treatment of choice for an infectious disease called periodontal disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease mainly starts with the formation of plaque around the teeth. Plaque is the yellow film on your teeth caused by food and bacteria in your mouth. When plaque build-up mixes with the saliva, it hardens over time and turns into tarter. Tarter containing bacteria will irritate the gums around the teeth by attaching to the outer surface of the teeth and roots and releases poisonous toxins. These toxins cause an infection and an inflammation of the gums. Worse, if left untreated they can ultimately cause bone loss and eventually tooth loss. Keep in mind the lost bone will never grow back.
Fortunately, scaling and root planing can help. Scaling and root planing is a procedure that treats the infected area by meticulously cleaning the tarter and bacteria from the teeth and their roots.
Diagnosing Periodontal Disease
One way to diagnose periodontal disease is by taking dental x-rays. X-ray images assist in making the tarter build up under the gums more visible. X-rays also show the current condition of the bone.
The second method of diagnosis is a clinical examination in which your hygienist can visually check the amount of plaque and tarter build up as well as the color and shape of the gums as indicators for gum disease.
The third and last method of diagnosis is by measuring the pockets that form between the gums and teeth. Destructive bacteria contained in plaque and tarter cause the formation of these pockets. Any pocket that measures greater than 3mm is probably an indication of periodontal disease.
Scaling And Root Planing Treatment Details
Deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing is normally performed by your dentist or dental hygienist in a couple of visits. The exact number of visits however depends on your dentist and the amount of tarter build up. Often your dentist will choose to administer local anesthetic to make the procedure virtually painless. The goal of the procedure is to eliminate the infection by removing the bacteria containing plaque and tarter that has attached to your teeth and their roots under the gum.
The deep cleaning is either done manually or with an ultra-sonic instrument called a cavitron, or sometimes a combination of the two. Both techniques loosen and remove plaque and tarter build up.
In addition, antibacterial irrigants or local antibiotics such as Arestin may be used in conjunction with the cleaning procedure to further reduce the number of bacteria around the gums.
Recovery from Scaling and Root Planing
When anesthesia has been used your lips, teeth or tongue may be numb for several hours. Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off. It is easy to bite or burn your tongue or lip while numb. It is recommended that you take some ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil, 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed) before the anesthetic completely wears off. This will help with any swelling or pain at the injection sites where anesthetic was administered.
For a few days, a soft diet is recommended. Avoid eating any hard foods such as tortilla chips, popcorn or seeds for the next several days. We recommend rinsing your mouth several times in the day of treatment, with warm salt water (use 1/4 tsp salt to 8 oz. water).
It is not unusual for the teeth to be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and/or sweets. This occurs as the gum tissue heals and shrinks to size. Brushing two or three times daily with sensitivity toothpaste or using fluoride rinses may help alleviate this over time. If sensitivity is severe, professional application of desensitizing agent may be required.
Consistent and thorough daily oral hygiene is essential to the proper healing of your gum tissues. Brushing, flossing and rinsing with recommended products are critical. Using Listerine, or if prescribed, Peridex (Chlorhexidine). If a localized antibiotic (Arestin) was placed, please follow all additional instructions given to you by the hygienist.
Refrain from smoking for 24-48 hours after procedure. Tobacco will delay healing of the tissues.
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