A Center For Family Dentistry

What Is Root Planing and Scaling: Explaining the Deep Cleaning Process

July 17, 2014 — by Keith Kelley, DDS
Tags: General Dental Care Gum Disease Deep Cleaning

An older couple smiling outdoorsRoot planing and root scaling. You've probably heard those terms before but have a vague understanding of what they actually mean. That's okay. That's what Dr. Keith Kelley is here for. One of the most important things that his practice in Troy can provide is basic patient education, whether it involve explanations on how general dentistry can improve your overall health and wellness or the latest in cosmetic techniques.

Let's look at root planing and root scaling in some basic detail right now. What we really should start with is another misunderstood dental care term: deep cleaning.

About Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning is not the same as routine dental cleanings. Deep cleaning refers to the careful removal of plaque, tartar, and other harmful substances that are located at the pocket where the gumline meets the root of a tooth.

These hard-to-reach spaces are often missed by your toothbrush and dental floss, so it takes a dentist to really get into those places and ensure they are free from harmful substances. Two key parts of the deep cleaning process are root planning and root scaling.

The Difference Between Root Planing and Root Scaling

Many people think that root planing and root scaling are the same, though that's not the case even though they are so often paired.

  • Root scaling refers to the removal of plaque and tartar from the tooth surface using a scraping tool
  • Root planing refers to the removal of any infected tooth structure and the smoothing out of the surface of the tooth root

Deep Cleaning Is Crucial for Periodontal Health

Gum disease occurs when the bacteria in the mouth infects the gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed, irritated, and discolored. To prevent gum disease from occurring, that best options aside from prevention is deep cleaning. This is a way for your dentist to catch a minor issue before it progresses into a full-blown problem.

What Happens During a Deep Cleaning Session

To minimize discomfort, a local anesthetic will be used. Specialized scraping tools are then used to remove any problematic material at the gumline. The procedure time will vary based on the needs of the patient.

In general, the entire mouth is not done in a single visit. Usually half or one-quarter of the mouth is treated.

Multiple Deep Cleaning Visits Are Common and Also Common Sense

Since local anesthetic is necessary to perform root planing and scaling, it numbs the mouth and renders it frozen. Doing the entire mouth can be problematic for patients who are trying to get back to their normal routine after treatment. Rather than have a long appointment and use local anesthetic all over the mouth, a shorter appointment that only involves anesthetic in one portion or one half of the mouth makes more sense.

What Patients Can Expect After Root Planing and Root Scaling

Patients will have numb teeth and gums after they undergo treatment. Even though the gums may feel tender, patients should still brush and floss as they normally would. Being extra-gentle with the toothbrush and using lukewarm water will help prevent any undue discomfort or sensitivity. Patients are basically back to normal once they're home.

Schedule a Consultation for Advanced Dental Care

If you would like to learn more about the various treatments out there that can enhance the health and beauty of your smile, it's important to schedule a consultation. Contact our family dentistry center today. We look forward to your visit.

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