Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that should not be left untreated. If a dentist is not seen to treat the gums, the individual may begin to lose teeth. Although periodontal disease is serious, there are several types of valuable treatments available.
Surgery is a common course of action, but depending on the severity of the condition, a non-surgical procedure called scaling and root planing may be appropriate.
Scaling and root planing is actually a complete dental cleaning procedure that is ideal in the early stages of periodontitis. During this time, the individual’s teeth may fall out or develop abnormal spaces between the teeth. As these pockets enlarge, the teeth pull away from the gums and eventually fall out.
Excess bacteria present on the teeth can also be accidentally ingested and make a person sick. This situation is very serious for people with heart-related conditions, as bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the chambers of the heart.
Scaling and root planing are usually given as a single treatment under local anesthesia unless there is a significant amount of tooth damage. During the “scaling” portion of the procedure, the dentist uses power tools to remove excess bacteria from the teeth. The bacteria can be in the form of plaque, tartar, or decay.
The “scaling” portion of the procedure involves cleaning below the gum level. Because bacteria may not be visible, the dentist feels for rough surfaces and uses a handpiece to remove any dirt or bacteria. There are two common types of hand instruments: an ultrasonic or scaling instrument. Dental patients tend to prefer the ultrasound instrument because it causes less discomfort.
To determine if a person’s periodontal disease is suitable for scaling and root planing, dentists use a guide from the American Dental Association (ADA). According to the ADA, gum disease that extends 3 to 6 millimeters below the gum line is suitable for scaling and root planing. Gum disease that is deeper than this amount will likely require surgery.
After the procedure
Since scaling and root planing involves the dentist working on sensitive areas of the teeth and gums, people may experience some soreness, soreness, and minor bleeding after the procedure. The individual may also notice a temporary sensitivity to hot or cold beverages.
In most cases, an over-the-counter medication is enough to relieve symptoms. The dentist should be contacted if it persists for an extended period of time.
If you’re not diligent about your daily brushing and flossing, the need for a deep cleaning can be almost unavoidable. And even if you’re “doing everything right,” there may come a time when your teeth need the procedure. However, before we describe deep teeth cleaning, let’s first mention why you might need it.
Periodontitis (gum disease) is a potentially serious and progressive condition involving a bacterial infection of the gums and surrounding bone. Research shows that almost a third of the population is genetically predisposed to periodontal disease, although it is often caused by the presence of one or more conditions. Some cannot be prevented, including hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, puberty, or menopause. However, other triggers can be prevented, including tobacco use and the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. The latter is the most common cause of gum disease.
Plaque builds up all the time, and if it’s not removed from your teeth, it can irritate your gums and harden into tartar (also called tartar or tartar). Tartar is not only much more difficult to remove, but it also releases bacterial toxins that break down the surrounding gums. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating so-called “gum pockets” below the gum line. If plaque and tartar are not removed quickly, the result is infection and cracking of the gums.
If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, but it can also negatively affect your overall health. It has also been linked to the presence of certain cardiovascular conditions. Unfortunately, early periodontal disease can easily go unnoticed until your next dental appointment. If you suspect gum problems, your dentist will physically assess your gums for redness, swelling, and bleeding that are indicative of gum disease. A periodontal probe is then used to determine the severity of the gums by measuring the depth of the spaces (gum sockets) between the teeth and the gums. Pocket depths of more than three millimeters indicate periodontitis. The mobility of the teeth will also be evaluated, as loose teeth clearly indicate a loss of bone support due to periodontitis. A series of X-rays will confirm any bone loss.
Fortunately, deep cleaning can remove plaque buildup and prevent the onset or progression of periodontitis. The procedure involves scaling and root planing and is generally used to treat early-stage periodontitis.
Deep dental cleaning techniques
Scaling is the process by which a dentist removes plaque and tartar that have built up on tooth surfaces. Scaling is usually done by hand, but combining manual scaling with an ultrasonic scaler can significantly speed up the process when buildup is significant.
Root planing is the second part of deep dental cleaning. The process involves manually removing plaque from the gum pockets. After the pockets are cleaned, the root surfaces of the teeth are smoothed (planned), which not only allows the gums to heal, but also reduces the chance of future plaque buildup. Depending on the severity of the condition, more than one treatment may be needed. Root planing is slightly more invasive than a routine prophylactic dental cleaning, but the potential discomfort can be avoided by using a local anesthetic.
When used together, the two deep cleaning teeth can stop the progression of mild to moderate gum disease. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to control the underlying bacterial infection. However, more severe cases of periodontitis may also require periodontal surgery.
Even after a successful deep cleaning of your teeth, you should continue a good daily oral hygiene routine. Combine twice-daily brushing with daily flossing to keep your teeth as plaque-free as possible. Visits to the dentist every six months are also essential to prevent worsening or recurrence of periodontal disease.
Periodontitis may be asymptomatic in its early stages, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, see your dentist for a deep cleaning as soon as possible:
Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, especially when brushing your teeth
Gums that come off the teeth.
The presence of pus between the gums and a tooth.
Dirty or unpleasant breath
Changes in your bite
Changes in the fit of partial dentures.