What Does Scaling & Root Planing Do for Your Dental Health?
Scaling and root planing are dental treatments that remove hardened plaque and calculus from below the gum line. When left untreated, a buildup can lead to periodontal disease. Early periodontal disease is referred to as gingivitis, a condition that can be reversed with appropriate dental hygiene as well as scaling and root planing procedures. Learning about the signs and symptoms of early periodontal disease and the treatments available at Wetherill Family Dentistry in Wilmington is a good way to start taking care of your dental health.
Gingivitis and Gum Disease
According to the American Dental Association, approximately 42% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of gum disease. Gingivitis is sometimes referred to as the ‘Silent Invader‘ because it doesn’t cause pain in the early stages. Over time, untreated gingivitis can cause inflammation of the gums, causing them to bleed easily when brushing or flossing.
Gingivitis is often caused by improper flossing and brushing, allowing plaque to adhere to the teeth, eventually hardening and creating tartar. Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that irritate the gums and erode tooth enamel. While soft plaque can be removed with proper tooth brushing, mouth rinses, and flossing, hardened tartar should be removed by one of our dental professionals at Wetherill Family Dentistry.
In addition to inadequate oral hygiene, certain individuals may be predisposed to gum disease due to genetics. Menstruating and pregnant females may also experience a condition referred to as hormonal gingivitis, which is caused by hormone fluctuations. Women need to take extra care of their teeth and gums during these times to prevent further issues.
Excess tartar buildup beneath the gum line can cause pockets to form around the teeth. When pockets develop, the teeth and gums are more vulnerable to bacteria, and hardened tartar can destroy the bone structure of the tooth, leading to tooth loss.
During dental check-ups, Dr. Wetherill uses a probe to measure pocket depths. Pockets that measure 3 mm or less are considered healthy, while pockets measuring 4 mm or higher can signify gum disease. We often recommend teeth scaling and root planing when they detect pockets measuring over 3 mm.
Scaling and Root Planing Procedures
At Wetherill Family Dentistry, scaling and root planing procedures are often completed over two appointments where two quadrants of the mouth are treated. Scaling and root planing are performed on an outpatient basis and take an hour or two to complete.
During teeth scaling and root planing procedures, Dr. Wetherill numbs the gums and tooth roots with a topical anesthetic or local anesthetic, depending on the extent of tartar buildup.
Once the mouth is numbed, Dr. Wetherill’s hygienist uses special tools to remove tartar from the tooth roots and on the teeth below the gum line. After tartar removal, the hygienist smooths out rough spots on the roots to allow the gums to heal and form a tight seal around each affected tooth.
Immediately following a deep cleaning, the gums may feel sensitive. It’s important to follow after-care instructions which may include rinsing with a prescription mouthwash or saltwater and/or avoiding certain foods while the gums heal. Most patients can expect to see results within eight weeks.
Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing may halt the progression of advanced periodontitis and reverse early gingivitis. Stay on top of your oral health with Wetherill Family Dentistry and with at-home proper oral hygiene. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with our dental team to keep your mouth healthy.