What is Scaling and Root Planing?
Scaling and root planing, also commonly known as oral prophylaxis is a routine dental procedure which is aimed at smoothening the tooth surface as well as removing plaque and calculus from the surfaces of the tooth. This is done through ultrasonic scaling or manually using hand instruments. In the dental world, these are known periodontal scalers and curettes.
Dental Scaling :
Dental scaling involves the removal of the plaque buildup from the crown of the tooth whereas in case of root planing, the plaque below the gum line is removed. Both scaling and root planing are considered as mechanical debridement procedures which help to maintain the health of the surrounding periodontium, mainly the cementum, gums, and the bone.
Is Scaling and Root Planing the Same as a Deep Cleaning?
Often you may get confused if these are two separate procedures or the different names for the same procedure. Yes, deep cleaning is a general term to treat periodontal diseases impacting your gum and jawbones, also known as SRP – Scaling and Root Planing. On the other hand, a general cleaning known as prophylaxis is a preventative treatment that is not as in-depth as deep cleaning and helps patients maintain good oral health.
Why do Hygienists Recommend Scaling and Root Planing?
To prevent this entire progression from plaque to periodontitis, hygienist recommend the scaling and root planing procedure. With the help of scaling and root planing, the plaque and calculus is removed and also shows a reduction in the inflammation of the surrounding tissues.
- Failure to remove plaque acts as a stimulus for further bacterial accumulation and plaque buildup which eventually mineralizes to form calculus
- Calculus cannot be removed by regular tooth brushing and requires oral prophylaxis by a dental professional
- Presence of plaque and calculus can result in further growth of bacteria which results in the inflammation of the gum tissue. At this stage, it is referred to as gingivitis
- If the gingivitis is left un-treated, the inflammation begins to involve the surrounding tooth supporting structures such as the cementum, periodontal ligament, and the bone
- This eventually results in the progression of gingivitis to periodontal disease (periodontitis). The signs of periodontitis include bleeding gums while brushing, gum recession, periodontal pocket formation, mobility of teeth and eventually, may also result in loss of teeth
- A characteristic sign of periodontitis is the presence of periodontal pockets. As a result of inflammation, there is a loss of tissue attachment between the tooth surface and the bone
These periodontal pockets act as an abode for bacteria, resulting in further inflammation and loss of tissue attachment.
How Can you Continue to Maintain Oral Hygiene?
Following oral prophylaxis, additional steps need to be taken to maintain effective oral hygiene. This includes brushing twice daily, use of floss or water pik to remove plaque buildup from between teeth as well as use of a mouthwash.
It is advised to visit the dentist every six months for a routine examination and maintenance therapy. During these appointments, the dentist usually checks any new symptoms and also performs scaling and root planing if required. For a patient who has heavy plaque buildup, it is advised to get routine oral prophylaxis every 3-4 months so as to avoid calculus formation and to ensure overall effective oral hygiene.