Deep Teeth Cleaning with Dental Scaling and Root Planing

Teeth scaling and root planing are central to maintaining optimal dental hygiene. Learn more about these treatments.

Scaling and Root Planing for Dental Hygiene and Gum Disease

Regular dental cleanings are a vital component of good oral hygiene. Besides keeping your gums and teeth healthy, it allows your dentist to ensure that your teeth are in the best form. If there are any specific conditions like gingivitis or cavities, they can be diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

Teeth scaling and root planing are two procedures that are often considered necessary to maintain excellent dental hygiene. Sometimes the administering of these together leads to what is called "deep teeth cleaning."

If the teeth aren't cleaned regularly, the chances of plaque and tartar building above the gum line increase. This can lead to bad breath and various dental conditions. To avoid that, both scaling and root planing play a vital role in ensuring your dental hygiene.


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What is dental scaling, and root planing? How do these procedures promote dental hygiene?

What is dental scaling?

Gum diseases are common yet frustrating. If you are suffering from persistent gum disease, your dentist might recommend dental scaling for plaque removal to prevent it from worsening. Teeth scaling or periodontal cleaning is a non-surgical method of treating a gum disease. It removes tartar and plaque from the teeth and helps your gums regain strength.

Dentist-inspired electronic brushes have also become a popular choice among people who want to assure teeth cleaning at home. These brushes have round brush heads and micro-vibrating bristles surrounding every tooth. They clean beside the gum line to eliminate plaque bacteria and assure calculus removal - which is often the main cause of gum diseases.

For more severe conditions of periodontal diseases, you might require gum surgery. The doctor might recommend root planing and teeth scaling before the surgery, along with detailed deep teeth cleaning treatment.

Root planing

The purpose of root planing is to eliminate the causes that lead to the inflammation of the gum tissue and the nearby bone. Usual etiologic agents eliminated by this periodontal therapy comprise tartar (calculus) and dental plaque.

Why is dental scaling necessary?

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that often forms in the area along and just beneath the gum line. If your gums are marginally receded from your teeth, your risks of getting gum disease are higher, and your dentist might suggest scaling. Dental scaling is a highly effective non-surgical treatment. Unlike a standard dental cleaning method, it includes cleaning the parts of the teeth right below the gum line.

How do these treatments promote dental hygiene?

There are various reasons why such dental procedures are necessary for promoting dental hygiene. Some of them are:

  • Disease prevention: The bacteria responsible for periodontal infections can travel through the blood circulation to other body parts. Research has proved that heart diseases and lung infections have a connection to periodontal bacteria. Scaling, deep teeth cleaning and root planing removes such bacteria and stops the disease from progression.

  • Fresh breath: A common sign of the periodontal disease is halitosis (bad breath). Bacteria and food particles can build up on the teeth, causing an insistent bad scent within the oral cavity. It is relieved with cleaning techniques such as root planing and teeth scaling.

  • Tooth protection: An individual is believed to be at a higher risk of periodontal disease if the gum pocket surpasses 3mm in depth. Deeper pockets mean that bacteria are given enough space and conditions to develop. Ultimately, a chronic inflammatory reaction produced by the body starts destroying the bone tissue and gingival that might result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the main cause of tooth loss, hence timely diagnosis, teeth scaling and polishing, and periodontal cleaning is extremely significant.

  • Better appearance: Scaling and root planing help with tartar and plaque removal from both the teeth and below the gumline. If your teeth have stains, then they are also likely to be removed in the deep teeth cleaning procedure.

How does teeth scaling prevent gum disease?

Scaling and root planing are procedures that help in treating gingivitis – an initial stage of gum disease. The methods are also cost-effective and slightly invasive to treat and prevent a more severe gum disease known as periodontitis. Gingivitis is a mild gum disease that is often easily treatable.

Meanwhile, periodontitis is a more severe form that often progresses and develops into a more complicated condition. It has various levels of disease and consequences that may require treatment accordingly.

Periodontal disease includes inflammation and gum infection in the adjoining oral tissues. The operating cause of the gum disease is bacterial plaque (an adherent, transparent film that builds up on teeth). It solidifies into a coarse, permeable substance that produces toxins.

The toxins loosen the gum fibers that hold the teeth together and break down, producing periodontal pockets that can store more bacteria. If it is left untreated, the pockets keep excavating, and the bone locking the teeth is eventually damaged, causing tooth loss (edentulism).

Which dental practitioner performs scaling and root planing treatment?

Dental hygienists and dentists usually perform preventive root planing and scaling treatments or treat gum disease early. They also conduct periodontal scaling if required.

If simple calculus removal, root planing or periodontal cleaning does not solve your problem, you are most likely in need of more advanced treatments. In such cases, the dentist might refer the patient to a periodontist, an expert in the treatment, diagnoses, and prevention of periodontal diseases.

A periodontist pursues another few years of post-dental school learning that comprises specialised gum training and treatment procedures.

What kinds of tools a dentist uses to assist in scaling and root planning process?

Generally, dental health practitioners use two kinds of scaling instruments. While mostly dentists might rely on either ones, some dentists might use both.

  • A dentist might pursue treatment using a hand-held instrument. They can use a dental scaler and curette for plaque removal. Since the dentist is unable to detect the plaque without any assistance, they use the sense of touch to recognize coarse spots and regions where tartar has built up.

  • Scaling with ultrasonic instruments: Ultrasonic scaling instruments help in plaque and calculus removal via a metal tip. This tip vibrates and chips off the tartar. It also uses a water spray to wash it and to ensure the tip remains cool.

What stages are involved in performing teeth scaling and root planing?

During the preliminary examination, a dentist will assess the plaque buildup and inspect your gums for potential periodontal problems. At the gumline border, healthy gum tissue forms a narrow, v-shaped channel between the gums and tooth called the sulcus.

Usually, the sulcus depth is either 3mm or less. It widens with periodontal diseases, which creates a deeper pocket. This results in dangerous plaque buildup, which is impossible to clean without professional dental assistance and treatment. Hence, you must urgently refer to a professional for periodontal scaling, teeth scaling and polishing and deep teeth cleaning.

Scaling removes tartar and plaque both above and below the gumline. You must be thinking, does teeth scaling and polishing hurt? Based on the quantity of plaque and tartar buildup and the degree of tooth sensitivity, the process can be discomforting for some. Anesthetic injection or a numbing gel can be used in the areas to decrease this.

Once anesthesia or numbing is achieved, the dentist will use a small scaler or an ultrasonic cleaner or both for plaque and calculus removal at the end of every periodontal pocket. The tooth exteriors are polished or flattened, which stops plaque from collecting along root surfaces and letting the gum tissue heal. The dentist may also administer antimicrobials, antibiotics, and various other medications straight into the periodontal pockets to control any infection and pain. Furthermore, the medication also fastens the healing process.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of deep cleaning through scaling and root planing?

Deep teeth cleaning ensures that if you have an existing gum disease like gingivitis, the condition doesn't further deteriorate. The plaque often forms when the bacteria that typically exist inside our mouth mix with food and various substances. However, the buildup can be avoided by flossing and proper brushing.

If plaque isn't removed, it hardens and forms tartar. Tartar is responsible for various gum diseases and the teeth in this condition often bleed spontaneously when you floss or brush despite being gentle. Hence, it is impossible to move further without professional teeth cleaning and root planing.

Halitosis and bad breath are other forms of gum diseases. The deep cleaning method is a way to restore the healthy state of teeth. Not only health overall, teeth scaling and polishing will also give you a new confidence to smile!

What to expect after teeth cleaning?

To proceed with teeth scaling and periodontal cleaning, you must also be aware of what to expect next. Following the procedures, you may also experience:

  • Pain and discomfort: Pain and discomfort should come as no surprise. It is usually acute and goes away in a few days after the treatment. Discomfort directly after the treatment is typically related to minor aching or throbbing. The pain diminishes within a few hours of the treatment, and if any remains, it goes away in a few days.

  • Sensitive Teeth: The teeth might feel sensitive to temperature swings and sweets. The sensitivity is often intense in the first few days and faints in the later days.

  • Bleeding: Bleeding may happen over a few brushings, but it steadily reduces within two to four days.

  • Appearance and looks: Root surfaces might be visible as the inflammation decreases. It may affect additional spaces among teeth.

How to care for your teeth after dental scaling and root planing?

After teeth scaling, you may encounter bleeding that slowly subsides. In the follow-up appointments, a dentist will evaluate the gums healing process and confirm a reduction in the periodontal pockets' size. If there are pockets more significant than 3 mm after the primary procedure, you may be recommended further treatment.

Good oral hygiene that is continued in the long-term, followed by dental professionals and periodic plaque removal, is vital in preventing periodontal disease from worsening into chronic conditions requiring surgery. It is essential since clinical evidence indicates a strong connection between secondary health conditions and periodontal disease like cardiovascular diseases.

Can lasers be used in teeth scaling and deep cleaning procedures?

Using dental lasers in the periodontal treatment results in less swelling, bleeding, and discomfort during the process. Nonetheless, periodontal tissue damage might happen if incorrect laser wavelengths or power levels are exercised through the periodontal process. Therefore, only dentists with experience in laser must operate using laser treatment.

Does deep cleaning through dental scaling hurt?

During the entire teeth scaling procedure, the dentist usually numbs the tooth roots and gums through local anesthesia. However, deep teeth cleaning and root planing typically produce little discomfort and the whole process can be performed in a single dental visit.

After a scaling and planing treatment, the gums might remain numb because of the anesthesia and feel slightly tender. But if you follow up well and maintain good oral hygiene, your gums will regain their appearance in no time.

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Find dentists near you and book your next appointment online