Treating Periodontal Disease Scaling and Root Planing
Periodontal Disease (also known as gum disease or pyorrhea) is an infection of the gum and bone that hold teeth in place. It is often painless and you may not be aware that you have a problem until your gums and the supporting bone are seriously damaged. The good news is that periodontal diseases often can be treated in the early stages with scaling and root planning.
During a checkup our dental team examines your gums for periodontal problems. An instrument called a periodontal probe is used to gently measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums.
At the edge of the gum line, healthy gum tissue forms a very shallow, V-shaped groove (called the sulcus) between the tooth and gums. The normal sulcus depth should be 3 millimeters or less. With periodontal disease, the sulcus develops into a deeper pocket that collects more plaque bacteria and is difficult to keep clean.
If gum disease is diagnosed our dental team may provide treatment or you may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease. Treatment often depends on how far the condition has progressed and how well your body responds to therapy.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Prevention includes a good daily oral hygiene routine. Brushing twice a day with fluoride.toothpaste and cleaning between teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner helps prevent plaque from forming. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are important.
Scaling and Root Planing is a method of treating periodontal disease when pockets are greater than 3 mm. Scaling is used to remove plaque and tarter beneath the gum line. A local anesthetic may be given to reduce discomfort. Using an instrument called a smaller scaler or an ultrasonic cleaner, the hygienist carefully removes plaque and tarter down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The tooth’s root surfaces are then smoothed or planed. An irrigation is then performed under the gum line to allow the gum tissue to heal. It also makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces.
Our dental team may recommend, prescribe and administer medications to help control infection and pain or to facilitate healing. At a follow-up appointment our dental team checks how the gums have healed and how the periodontal pockets have decreased. When pockets greater than 3 mm persist after treatment, additional measures may be needed.
You will be given instructions on how to care for your healing teeth and gums. Maintaining good oral hygiene and continued, sometimes lifelong, follow-up by our dental team are essential to help the prevention of a more serious condition or periodontal disease from recurring.