Scaling and root planing
Scaling and root planing also known as Dental Deep Cleaning
Tooth Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is the most common and conservative form of treatment for periodontal (gum) disease.
Scaling is the removal of calculus (commonly called tartar) and plaque that attach to the tooth surfaces. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root.
Plaque is a sticky substance, full of bacteria, that forms on teeth. When plaque hardens over time, it is called calculus.
Plaque is more likely to stick to rough surfaces. For this reason, the root surface is made smooth in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining calculus and smooths irregular areas of the root surface.
Bacteria cause periodontal disease. Plaque and calculus provide an irregular surface that allows these bacteria to attach easily. Scaling and root planing are done to remove the plaque and calculus. For early stages of the disease, this treatment may be all that is needed to get the condition under control. This is especially effective with gingivitis. With more advanced gum disease, scaling and root planing may be the first step before surgery.
For some patients, scaling and root planing can cause discomfort. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the portion of your mouth that is being worked on.
Scaling and root planing are done with a combination of ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments. Ultrasonic instruments are electric or air-powered.
Typically, ultrasonic instruments are used first to remove large deposits of plaque and calculus from the crowns and roots of the teeth. Hand instruments called scalers and curettes are then used to remove any remaining material and make sure that the tooth surface is clean and smooth. When working under the gum line, your dentist or hygienist cannot see the plaque or calculus. He or she will rely on the sense of touch to feel for roughness on the root surface.
Sometimes, scaling and root planing can be completed in one visit. This usually is possible if you have gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. However, if you have periodontitis, multiple visits are usually needed. The periodontist typically will do one-quarter of your mouth (a quadrant) at each visit.