What is Deep Scaling and Root Planing?

Deep scaling or root planing is the process of cleaning the places between the gums and the teeth, thus, eliminating the disease-causing bacteria in it.

Essentially, the dentist will remove the tartar and plaque from gum pockets, promoting healing of the gums.

If tartar and plaque from gum pockets remain untreated, this may cause inflammation of the gums, otherwise known as gingivitis. The bacteria can even go deeper into the gums, resulting to a more severe inflammation that can also destroy the supporting structures of the teeth such as the bone and the ligaments.

Once the supporting structures are damaged, it cannot grow back, thus making the tooth loose. This condition is called periodontitis, a more serious and destructive form of gum disease.

Scaling and root planing is done with the use of ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments.

First, ultrasonic scalers are used to remove larger deposits of plaque and tartar from the crowns and roots of teeth.
Next, hand instruments called scalers and curettes are then used to remove any remaining deposits in the deeper pockets and to make sure the tooth surfaces are clean and smooth.
Additional antiseptic mouth rinse or antibiotics may be prescribed by the dentist after the treatment to aid with the healing process.

The whole procedure may be done in a single visit, however, treatment per quadrant (one-fourth of the mouth) or per one-half of the mouth (right or left, upper or lower) is recommended per appointment especially for very deep pockets and extensive rough root surfaces since anesthesia will be used.

Ideally, after the deep scaling and root planing appointment, healing should be observed as long as it is coupled with the best daily oral hygiene measures.

After 2 weeks to 1 month, a reassessment can be done to check for changes in the gums such as the healing of the diseased gum pockets.

For periodontitis patients, more frequent visits to the dentist are a must to maintain the healthy state of the gums and to prevent the reformation of pockets. A consistent oral hygiene routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing is also needed to maintain a good oral health.

Who To Test
Patients with periodontitis usually seek treatment due to tooth mobility or heavy tartar build-up, however, a more thorough dental assessment is needed to arrive at a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan.

Dental radiographs can be taken to assess the bone level and the overall status of the supporting structures of the teeth. Another important assessment tool is getting the depth of the gums. Since periodontitis destroys the ligaments and bone around the teeth, it creates small spaces or pockets in the gums. A probe, a very thin measuring instrument, can be inserted into these pockets to check their depths and basically, deeper pockets mean a more severe periodontitis case. These pockets are full of destructive bacteria therefore the treatment involves cleaning these deep pockets in a procedure called deep scaling.