Dental cleaning is an essential procedure recommended by dentists to help you control bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria is responsible for some of the oral and dental problems you experience, including bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, and bleeding gums. Regular cleaning and flossing of teeth are not sufficient to keep the bacteria at bay. Therefore, dentists recommend dental cleaning at least twice a year to ensure that your mouth is free from any dangerous bacteria.

Scaling and root planning is an essential procedure during dental cleaning. It involves the removal of calculus and plaque that could be stuck below and above your gum line. The process is even more critical if periodontitis has damaged your bones, gums, and surrounding tissues. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we offer all dental restorative procedures, including scaling and dental planning. Contact us for more information, help, and quality dental care in La Puente, CA.

Teeth Scaling and Root Planning — Overview

Your oral health is vital as it impacts your general wellbeing. Dentists recommend regular cleaning of teeth to keep your mouth clean and safe from disease-causing bacteria. You can achieve this by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.  Additionally, you should visit your dentists at least twice every year for regular checkups and dental cleaning. These preventive measures could keep your oral health in check and help you prevent some oral problems.

However, all this is never enough. You might experience oral problems like gingivitis and periodontitis, especially if you haven’t been keen enough to practice the recommended dental care routine. Thus, your dentist might recommend teeth scaling, a procedure conducted together with root planning. Scaling and root planning together constitute deep dental cleaning. Regular dental cleaning is generally preventive, but deep cleaning could be necessary if your dentist has diagnosed chronic periodontitis requiring a more intensive treatment form.

Dentists would recommend scaling and root planning if they notice signs of chronic periodontitis. The procedure can stop the dangerous effects of gum disease and keep a patient’s mouth healthy. Chronic periodontitis occurs when the dangerous bacteria in plaque causes the gums to recede from the teeth. That leaves deep pockets between the teeth and gums, where you could experience more bacterial growth. The deep gum pockets are usually hard to reach when you are cleaning your teeth. Therefore, regular brushing and flossing of teeth are not sufficient to keep the disease from spreading.

If the disease is left untreated, you could develop chronic periodontitis. Here are some of the dangerous results of chronic gum disease:

  • Loss of bone and surrounding tissues
  • Loose teeth that could eventually lead to loss of teeth
  • Shaky teeth that would make it hard for you to chew or bite

Chronic periodontitis is a common problem that could develop due to one or more of the following:

Poor Oral Hygiene

As previously mentioned, dentists recommend regular cleaning of teeth, which includes brushing and flossing of teeth. However, if you fail to maintain dental hygiene, the bacteria in your mouth combine with food particles left in your mouth to produce an acid. The acid is problematic, as it can eat away the enamel of your teeth. However, if the acid combines with the remaining food particles and saliva, a chemical reaction occurs in which a sticky substance is formed above and below your gum line. That is the substance that causes gingivitis and gum disease.

Once plaque and tartar start to form on your gum line, it becomes increasingly hard to get rid of them with regular cleaning and flossing. If left untreated, the bacteria could spread to other parts of the mouth, causing even more significant damage. Scaling and root planning will be necessary to restore the health of your teeth, gums, and bone.

Bad Habits like Smoking

Once gum disease starts to develop, your body should fight the spread of the infection. However, this could be a challenge if your immune system is weak. That is what bad habits like smoking do to your body, they weaken your body’s ability to fight diseases. People who smoke have twice the risk of experiencing gum disease when compared to those who don’t. The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater the risk of periodontitis. Once the disease damages your gums, smoking makes it hard for them to heal. Additionally, most treatments for gum disease may not work if you continue smoking.

Hormonal Changes

Changes in hormones, particularly in women, affect their oral health. These changes mainly occur during puberty, menstruation, if using oral contraceptives, at menopause, and during pregnancy. For instance, during puberty, there’s high production of female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones increase blood flow to the gums, thereby changing the way gum tissues react to bacterial infections. It could cause your gums to become swollen, reddish, tender, and easily irritated, especially when brushing and flossing.

The increased production of progesterone during pregnancy leaves women more susceptible to gingivitis and gum disease.

Other causes of chronic periodontitis include:

  • Aging
  • Poor nutrition
  • Family history
  • Some medications

Other than deepening gum pockets, gum disease could manifest in the following ways:

  • Sensitive, bleeding gums
  • Tender, reddish and inflamed gums
  • Shifting permanent teeth
  • Bad breath
  • A bad bite

Scaling and Root Planing Benefits

Scaling and root planning are the highly accepted forms of treatment for chronic gum disease. They effectively eliminate plaque and tartar, which are responsible for spreading gum disease to other parts of the mouth and teeth. Scaling and root planning will stop the infection in gum pockets, where you cannot reach during regular brushing and flossing. Thus, they could improve these gum pockets, reduce the accumulation of more bacteria, and develop gum disease after treatment.

The main procedure for the treatment of gum disease is reducing the pockets between your gums and teeth. Your dentist does this to reduce the risk of experiencing bone, teeth, and tissue loss, all related to chronic periodontitis.

Therefore, seek treatment immediately if you experience some or most of the symptoms of gum disease listed above. Once at the dentist’s office, your dentist will conduct a screening for gum disease or evaluation for periodontitis. The screening or assessment reveals evidence of bacterial infection in your gums and early stages of loss of jawbone.

Your dentist will proceed to measure the space between your gums and teeth to determine how deep your gum pockets have become. He/she could also recommend an X-ray to determine the amount of bone you have around your teeth.

Sometimes a thorough examination is necessary to diagnose gum disease. However, your dentist could rely on some of the above-listed tell-tale signs.

How is Scaling and Root Planing  Done?

Scaling and root planning mainly involves removing plaque, hardened tartar or calculus, and any stain from your teeth and roots. The procedure could take more than a single visit to the dentist’s office. It could be painful and uncomfortable, depending on how severe your chronic periodontitis is and how much your gums have receded. Therefore, your dentist could perform it under local anesthesia.

Your dentist could separate the treatment into two visits: he/she can clean the lower and upper quarter of one part of the mouth during your first visit, then the remaining quarter during your second visit.

Administration of Local Anesthesia

Scaling and root planning starts with your dentist administering local anesthesia. It will help numb the pain, reduce discomfort and bleeding. Local anesthesia is pretty standard during minor but invasive dental treatments.

Your dentist will administer anesthesia by injecting a drug into the mouth. It will numb the treatment area. After a few minutes, you’ll experience a temporary lack of sensation in the area around where your dentist administered anesthesia.

You will remain alert and conscious throughout the treatment process but won’t feel pain. However, the injected part could feel tender during or after treatment.

Teeth Scaling

Once your dentist numbs the treatment area, he/she will start scaling your teeth right away. Teeth or subgingival scaling involves removing the calculus or plaque formed beneath, and between your gums, and also on the surface of your teeth.

Your dentist might perform this procedure manually or by the use of an ultrasonic tool like cavitron. In both cases, your dentist will be able to loosen up the plaque and rid your gum of the hardened tartar.

The goal is mainly to remove the plaque and the dangerous bacteria that could spread further into your gums, teeth, and other parts of the body. That is why your dentist will place the scaler into your gum pockets to remove bacteria that could be hidden down there. He/she will then scrape and clean your teeth and the root surfaces in a circular, vertical and horizontal motion.

Root Planing

Scaling is soon followed by root planning to complete the deep cleaning procedure. The procedure mainly involves smoothing out the rough surfaces and removing all subgingival bacteria that could continue gum disease.

Your teeth have four main components: Dentin, enamel, dental pulp, and cementum. Gum disease mainly affects two of these components: dentin and cementum. As the disease progresses, it could damage the dentin, or cementum, or both. That leaves your root surfaces quite rough and infected.

When performing root planning, your dentist cleans the area deep below your gum line to remove tartar and plaque buildup on your dental roots. That is the point where the bacteria infects your bones. By planning, your dentist aims at completely removing the cementum (the calcified layer covering the roots of your teeth). Root planning could also involve removing a small layer of dentin (your teeth’ second layer, which develops under the enamel).

Note that your dentist must perform the two procedures on both sides of the upper and lower gums.

Post Surgical Treatment

After root planning, your dentist will flush out the treated area to rid it of any bacteria that could remain in your mouth. Note that even the slightest trace of bacteria could continue the spread of gum disease. Therefore, your dentist has to be sure that he/she has cleaned out the entire bacteria.

Your dentist will then apply pressure on the treated gum to promote the growth of gum tissue.

You might experience some pain and discomfort after the treatment. But, the pain will go away after a few hours or days. Once your gum has healed, it will appear firm and well-adapted. Your gum tissue will also appear normal.

Are There Side Effects?

It is not unusual to experience some side effects after a dental procedure. However, the side effects should be mild and must reduce as you heal. Some of the side effects you might experience after scaling and root planning includes:

  • Your gums could bleed or become irritated up to a few hours after the procedure — It is advisable to go easy on them when cleaning your teeth to avoid worsening the irritation. Once they are properly healed, you can start taking care of your teeth, gums, and mouth like before
  • You could experience discomfort and sensitivity on your teeth, especially when you take cold, hot, or sugary foods — You might want to avoid some of the foods you enjoy at least for a few hours or days until your gums are properly healed.
  • You could notice inflammation and swell at or around the affected part — The swelling and inflammation should get better as the days go by. However, you should notify your dentist as soon as the swelling or inflammation intensifies.
  • Mild aches and throbbing — They are entirely normal and should go away after a few hours.

Care After Treatment

Proper oral hygiene is crucial after scaling and root planning. It helps prevent the progress of gum disease soon after treatment.

Periodontitis is a severe gum disease, which could cause you to lose your bone permanently. You could prevent chronic periodontitis through simple oral hygiene practices at home, including properly brushing your teeth and flossing every day. However, if it continues to spread, you might need to undergo surgery to restore the lost bone and tissues.

To avoid this, your dentist will recommend several oral care procedures that you can practice at home after scaling and root planning. In addition to brushing your teeth two times a day and flossing at least once, you might consider rinsing your mouth regularly with mouthwash. Proper cleaning will remove all remaining food particles from your mouth.

Your dentist will also want you to go back to his/her office a few days after your treatment. During this follow-up appointment, your dentist will ensure that your gum is healing correctly and that no traces of plaque and calculus can be seen on your gum line. Your dentist will also check the size of your gum pockets to ensure that it has reduced. If not, more treatment could be necessary to rid your gum of the dangerous bacteria completely.

How Often Should One Undergo Scaling and Root Planing?

As earlier mentioned, dental cleaning is among the procedures you should undergo during your regular visits to the dentist. These visits should happen at least two times a year. If you have gum disease, your dentist could combine dental cleaning with scaling and root planning to rid your gum of the buildup that brings bacteria infection to your teeth and gums.

For some people, a single procedure of scaling and root planning is enough to rid your mouth of the dangerous bacteria. However, if you have a more severe form of chronic periodontitis, your dentist could recommend a repeat of the procedure. If that is the case, you may undergo another treatment six months after the first treatment.

The Risks Associated with Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planning are generally safe procedures. The risks are minimal and treatable. For instance, the treated part could become infected soon after treatment. To avoid that, your dentist will prescribe an antibiotic or a particular type of mouthwash that you can use for some days or weeks.

However, it is good to be alert if you experience severe side effects that could be an onset of a more serious issue. For instance, if your pain worsens, you have a fever, or the treated part does not heal as expected, you may need to call your dentist right away.

You should expect pain and sensitivity right after the procedure. But it should go away after a few hours.

Find a Reliable La Puente Dentist Near Me

If you have periodontitis and are in La Puente, CA, you need proper treatment to rid your gum of the dangerous bacteria that could spread to the rest of your body. Scaling and root planning are common and more effective forms of treatment for gum disease. However, they should be done by a competent general dentist. For more information and help with gum disease treatment, call La Puente Advanced Dentistry us at 626-626-7075. Our experienced dentists will be happy to work with you until we restore your oral and general health.