Scaling and root planing are a combined treatment known as deep dental cleaning. Patients who have developed gum disease usually require deep dental cleaning to restore gum health, fresh breath, and good overall oral health.

In today’s blog, you’ll learn about the causes and symptoms of gum disease, as well as the details of scaling and root planing procedures. 

Are you due for a six-month checkup and cleaning? Call our Naperville dentist’s office today at 630-369-3120 to reserve your appointment. We are open as early as 7:30 AM and as late as 7:00 pm for your convenience.

About Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, begins as gingivitis. Left untreated, it will advance to full-fledged periodontal disease and then acute periodontitis, which may require gum surgery by a dental specialist known as a periodontist.

The leading cause of adult tooth loss in the nation, gum disease afflicts about half of the population at some point in their lifetimes. In addition to causing tooth loss, gum disease increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes complications, pregnancy complications, cognitive diseases, and other health concerns. The good news is, if we find and treat gum disease early, it will go into remission. From there, if you practice good oral homecare and attend preventive dental visits twice a year, you may keep recurrence at bay.

Gum disease begins when plaque hardens into tartar at the gum line. Plaque is a naturally occurring bacterial substance that calcifies into tartar (or calculus) if left on teeth for 48 hours or longer. Daily brushing and flossing help deter gum disease by removing plaque before it calcifies. However, because cleaning between teeth and at the gum line on molars can be challenging, plaque may become trapped in these areas even if you practice good daily oral hygiene. 

Tartar irritates gum tissue and causes inflammation, as well as infection. Patients often notice red, swollen, sensitive gum tissue; bad breath; pus at the gumline; and in advanced cases, teeth may become loose. However, in the early stages of gum disease, not all patients have noticeable symptoms.

Issues that contribute to the development of gum disease include but are not limited to:

  • Poor oral health habits
  • Smoking
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Hormone fluctuations (puberty, menopause, pregnancy, hormone contraception, menstruation)
  • Taking certain medications
  • Having chronic dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Using an albuterol inhaler for asthma
  • Having Diabetes
  • High stress
  • Genetics
  • Immunodeficiencies
  • Failed dental fillings and crowns
  • Crooked or crowded teeth that are difficult to floss

Deep Dental Cleanings

Patients who do not have gingivitis usually undergo a regular dental cleaning following their semi-annual checkup. Those with gum disease need a deep cleaning, in which the hygienist will first scale the teeth at and below the gum line, then plane teeth roots. This process can take more than one appointment, and three-month cleanings are often advised until the condition is under control.

Scaling Teeth

With a special instrument known as an ultrasonic scaler, our hygienist will meticulously clean away plaque and tartar from your teeth, at the gum line, and just below the gum line. To ensure your comfort, a local anesthetic will be administered to numb gum tissues before treatment begins. 

How do plaque and tartar get under the gum tissue?

The bacteria in plaque and tartar eat away connective tissues that hold gums to the base of teeth. As these tissues are consumed, periodontal pockets form. Periodontal pockets are literally pockets in the gum tissue at the base of teeth. Inside these pockets, which are warm, moist, and dark, bacteria quickly breed and cause more damage.

Planing Teeth Roots

Our teeth roots often have ridges where plaque and tartar can build up. With a special instrument, the hygienist smooths, or planes, these ridges. Planing teeth roots eliminates areas for plaque and tartar to accumulate. In many cases, we also administer an antimicrobial treatment or antibiotics to reduce bacteria below the gum line.

After scaling and root planing, healthy gum tissue naturally re-attaches to teeth as connective tissues regenerate. If you practice good home hygiene and attend preventive dental visits, you may keep gum disease from flaring. Note that gum disease is a chronic condition, so once you develop it, you’re prone to recurrence.

Preventive Dentistry

Brush your teeth twice a day, cleaning all surfaces, for about two minutes per session. Floss once a day, before the second daily brushing session. You can also use an antibacterial mouthwash and tongue scraper to further reduce your potential for gum disease flares.

Don’t neglect your six-month checkups and cleanings. At these preventive appointments, the dentist can find and treat dental and periodontal issues early, before they escalate to cause significant harm to your oral and systemic health. 

Schedule Your Dental Cleaning Now

At your cleaning, if the dentist or hygienist notices that you’ve developed gum disease, we’ll recommend a deep dental cleaning with scaling and root planing. Our gentle hygienists and ultrasonic scaling techniques make the procedure highly effective and as comfortable as possible. Schedule by calling our Naperville, IL, dental office at 630-369-3120 or book your appointment online