Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a common dental procedure used to treat gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. It is a non-surgical method for cleaning the teeth and the roots of the teeth below the gumline to remove plaque, tartar (calculus), and bacterial toxins that have accumulated and are causing inflammation and infection in the gums.
Here's a breakdown of the steps involved in scaling and root planing:
Assessment: The first step is a thorough examination of your oral health. This typically includes measuring the depth of gum pockets around each tooth. Healthy gums have shallow pockets, while deeper pockets can be a sign of gum disease.
Local Anesthesia: To ensure your comfort during the procedure, your dentist or dental hygienist may administer a local anesthetic to numb the area being treated. This helps to minimize any discomfort or pain.
Scaling: Scaling involves the removal of plaque and tartar (calculus) from the tooth surfaces, both above and below the gumline. Dental instruments such as ultrasonic scalers and hand scalers are used to carefully scrape away these deposits. This process helps to eliminate the source of bacteria that is causing gum inflammation and infection.
Root Planing: After scaling, the next step is root planing. This involves smoothing out the roots of the teeth to remove any rough or irregular areas. These irregularities can trap bacteria and contribute to gum disease. Smoothing the roots encourages the gums to reattach to the teeth, reducing the depth of gum pockets and promoting healing.
Antimicrobial Rinse: Your dentist may use an antimicrobial mouth rinse to help control bacteria and infection in the treated areas.
Follow-Up: Depending on the severity of your gum disease, you may need multiple appointments to complete the scaling and root planing process. After the initial treatment, your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and ensure that your gums are healing properly.
Maintenance: After SRP, it's crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices at home, including regular brushing, flossing, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash. Your dentist may also recommend more frequent dental cleanings (periodontal maintenance) to prevent the recurrence of gum disease.
SRP is an effective treatment for mild to moderate gum disease. However, in some severe cases, surgical interventions may be necessary. It's essential to follow your dentist's recommendations for ongoing oral care to maintain healthy gums and prevent gum disease from returning. Regular dental check-ups are also important for monitoring your oral health and catching any issues early on.