dentist check patients teeth for gum disease

How Dental Scaling and Root Planing Can Prevent Gum Disease

Periodontal disease (periodontitis or “gum disease”) is defined as serious gum infection and inflammation that can damage the surrounding tooth structures. If left untreated, it can also damage the bone that supports teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two most significant threats to dental wellness. Periodontal disease can also affect overall health.

Many people who experience signs of periodontal disease may dismiss ongoing symptoms as the result of cavities, or even “regular” changes to the mouth. Symptoms such as red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums are signs of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease, and should never be ignored. Here, we discuss how dental scaling and root planing can help reverse or halt periodontal disease.

What Is Dental Scaling and Root Planing?

A Thorough Cleaning

Getting dental scaling and root planing together is considered one of the best methods to remove plaque and tartar from teeth. Based on the level of gum disease, scaling and planing may require more than one visit to complete.

  • Teeth scaling. Your dental hygenist performs scaling to remove plaque (the sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth) and tartar (hardened plaque) from teeth and below the gumline using either a manual instrument or an ultrasonic scaler that breaks up tartar using water. The hygienists at Lewis Estates Dental Centre routinely perform this procedure as part of your periodontal therapy. The overall goal of this procedure is to remove harmful bacterial toxins and debris from your mouth to promote gum healing and healthy gums.
  • Root planing. This procedure involves debriding the root surface of a tooth below the gumline. Doing so helps receding gums reattach to the tooth. Gum recession occurs when the tissue surrounding a tooth becomes irritated and starts to contract, exposing more of the tooth and/or the root, creating “pockets.” Root planing eliminates these pockets, making it harder for bacteria to accumulate.

Why Do I Need a Scaling Treatment?

Symptoms and Risks of Gum Disease

Plaque and tartar cause bacteria to accumulate in the mouth, which spreads to the gums and causes inflammation. This starts the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis). If treated early enough, gingivitis can be reversible with professional dental cleanings. If left untreated, it will turn into periodontal disease, a severe form of gum disease that can only be slowed down but not reversed.

Are you at risk of developing gum disease? Here are some symptoms and risk factors to watch for:

  • Symptoms. Swollen, red, bleeding gums; bad breath; painful chewing; loose or shifting teeth; a change in bite; and/or receding gums are all signs of chronic periodontal disease.
  • Risks. Poor oral hygiene can create plaque and tartar buildup, leading to bacterial accumulation on and under the gumline. Poor nutrition and factors such as smoking/vaping can also increase the risk of developing periodontitis. Chronic stress increases inflammation, which can affect the gums. Certain medications can cause dry mouth and promote an increase in bacterial growth in the mouth. Age, hormonal changes, and family history also play a role in your risk of developing periodontal disease.
  • Benefits. Teeth scaling and root planing are the best treatments for periodontitis. Research has shown these procedures are effective in reducing gum pockets. Reducing pockets lowers the risk of infection, which in turn reduces the risk of tissue, bone, and tooth loss associated with advanced periodontal disease. 

When Immediate Help Is Needed

While no symptom of gingivitis or periodontitis should be ignored, loose or lost teeth are signs of advanced disease and need to be addressed immediately by your dentist. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to bone loss and breakdown of the soft tissue structures that support your teeth. Contact your dentist right away for an exam if this occurs.

What Is the Cost of Dental Scaling?

Putting You and Your Health First

Don’t let concerns over affordability be a barrier to obtaining professional and thorough dental care. While there is a cost to dental scaling and root planing procedures, contact the Lewis Estate Dental Centre administration team and allow them to help you understand your insurance coverage options.

Scaling and Root Planing: What Is the Procedure?

During Your Visit

  • The procedure. Teeth scaling and root planing are routine procedures. If your teeth or gums are particularly sensitive, or you’re concerned about discomfort, ask your dentist if a local anesthetic is needed. Scaling will be done first. This involves using a special tool to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth and gumline. Root planing comes next. Your dentist will use a scaling instrument to gently smooth the roots. This will help your gums reattach to the teeth, eliminating pockets where bacteria grow.
  • Potential side effects. There are minimal risks after a scaling and root planing procedure. You may experience minor tenderness or pain that may last for a few days. Your dentist may insert medication directly into cleaned gum pockets to prevent infection. They may also prescribe antibiotics or recommend a mouth rinse to help with healing.

What Happens After Teeth Scaling?

After-care Treatment

Good oral hygiene starts at home. You can help prevent periodontal disease from progressing or recurring between dental visits. Use a quality fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth two to three times a day. Floss or waterfloss daily. Consume a healthy diet. Talk to your doctor or dental team about ways you can reduce or stop tobacco use.

It’s also likely you will be booked for a follow-up appointment so that your dental team can check on how well you’ve healed and the depth of any gum pockets after the procedure.

Dr. Bains may suggest a regular periodontal maintenance schedule. Dr. Bains and the team at Lewis Estates Dental Centre are happy to talk to you about your individual needs, and will be there to help you maintain good oral health for years to come!