Teeth Scaling and Root Planing – Dental Care

Healthy Tooth
Periodontal Disease

Overview of Scaling and Root Planing

Tooth Scaling removes plaque, tartar and hard crusty calculus deposits, which are loaded with bacteria.
Sub-Gingival tooth scaling is necessary when plaque and tartar are detected below the gum line. Gum tissues remain healthy when the shallow groove is limited to 3 millimeters within teeth and gums. If the grove deepens beyond this limit, there is a risk of periodontal disease affecting gum pockets. If pockets are 5-6 mm deep or if infection is present, we may use a combination of scaling and root planning. Scaling consists of removing plaque and calculus (commonly called tartar) that have attached to the surfaces of the teeth. Scaling and root planning particularly target the tooth areas below the gum, along the tooth root. Plaque usually adheres to the rough tooth surfaces, so during root planing there is an attempt to remove all plaque and calculus, and to smooth out any rough and irregular tooth root surfaces. Root planning deep-cleans and smooths the roots of your teeth. This makes it harder for plaque and bacteria to cling to the root, and this makes it easier for gums to reattach to the roots.

Dental Instruments for Scaling

Ultrasonic Dental Scaler
Dental Scaling Instruments

There are two types of scaling instruments and some dentists or dental hygienists may use both:

  • Hand-held instruments. Dental scaler and curette can be used to manually remove (scale) the plaque from the teeth. The dentist or dental hygienist cannot see the plaque; they rely on touch to identify areas of tartar buildup and rough spots.
  • Ultrasonic instruments. Ultrasonic scaling instruments clean plaque from the teeth with a vibrating metal tip that chips off the tartar and water spray to wash it away and keep the tip cool.

Procedure for Scaling and Root Planing

English: 29px A posterior scaler shown in rela...
English: 29px A posterior scaler shown in relation to a posterior tooth on a typodont Deutsch: 27px Ein Scaler für das Seitenzahngebiet, gezeigt auf einem Schaumodell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Scaling and root planing are performed by using hand-held dental scaling instruments shaped to reach certain areas of the mouth and teeth; these instruments are not powered.
  • These are usually used in combination with ultra-sonic electric or air-powered scalers with copious amounts of water to make sure that the teeth are not damaged by heat, and to help wash out the loose calculus and other debris.
  • The ultra-sonic scalers that are attached into the hand piece are usually dull tips made of metal that pulsate at extremely high frequencies and knock the plaque and calculus from the teeth being working on. These used first to remove heavy plaque and calculus deposits from the exposed tooth crowns and root surfaces.
  • The hand-held scalers and curettes follow this in order to ensure that the teeth are clean and smooth.
  • In some cases with gingivitis only, one visit is required for this procedure to be completed. However, for individuals with periodontitis, several visits are required.

After Effects of Scaling and Root Planning

Following condition may exist after Therapy

  • Soreness
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Small amounts of bleeding for several days following the procedure, but this usually subsides rather quickly

A non-prescription pain reliever may be used to remedy this situation. Dentist may recommend use of an antibacterial mouth rinse after the scaling and root planing. This will be helpful for sore gums and as an efficient oral hygiene measure. Ensure regular brush and floss.

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