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Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, causes swollen gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis can also progress to a more serious form of gum disease, known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, which can damage the tissue and bone that holds teeth in place. Patients with gum disease or gingivitis may need a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) to avoid serious dental problems and tooth loss.

Deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, removes plaque and bacteria that cause gum disease. This deep cleaning is a simple and straightforward procedure that requires no preparation and minimal downtime. Scaling and root planing does require two visits to your dentist, though, one visit for each side of your mouth.

How Root Planing Works

Dentists typically recommend root planing and scaling to patients with gum disease. The scaling and root planing procedures halt the damaging effects of gum disease.

Bacteria living in your mouth feed on the sugar in your food. As the bacteria feed, they produce acid that mixes with saliva, food particles, and other bacteria to create a sticky biofilm, known as plaque. The acid and bacteria in plaque irritate the gums to cause signs and symptoms of gingivitis above your gum line. In time, plaque hardens into tartar, which can cause irritation below the gum line.

Gum inflammation can cause pockets to develop between teeth and gums. Plaque, tartar, and bacteria can fill these pockets and begin attacking the root of the tooth and the tissues that hold teeth in the jaw. Left untreated with scaling and root planing, this can lead to gum infections and even the loss of a tooth.

Ultrasonic scaling uses the power of sound waves to remove tartar, plaque, and biofilm on the tooth surface and under the gum line. The root planing procedure involves smoothing the surface of the tooth.

Is Root Planing and Scaling the Same Thing?

While root planing and scaling are part of a deep cleaning, the two procedures are quite different. Scaling is a procedure that removes plaque; it involves using special tools to scrape plaque from the surface of teeth and from any pockets that have developed between your teeth and your gums. Root planing smoothes out rough surfaces on the tooth’s root, which makes it easier for your gums to reattach to your teeth as they heal.

What to Expect During a Deep Cleaning

Your dental team performs deep cleaning at the office as an outpatient procedure. You will have two sessions to clean the teeth on the right side of your mouth and another to clean the left side. Your dentist will administer local anesthesia to reduce any discomfort during the treatment. The numbing action of the local anesthesia will last for a few hours.

After treatment, you will likely experience some discomfort or soreness as the anesthesia wears off. Over-the-counter pain relievers should be enough to relieve any discomfort you feel.

Is Time Off Work Required

No. You can drive and return to work right after scaling and root planing. Be sure to schedule enough time for the treatment, though, which may last 60 to 90 minutes.

Gum Disease Left Untreated

Left untreated, gum disease can lead to bone and tissue loss. In time, gum disease can also lead to tooth loss. The loss of one tooth and its supportive bone and tissue can cause other teeth to loosen. Surrounding teeth can also move into the gap created by the missing teeth. Missing teeth, loose teeth, and shifting teeth can ruin the aesthetic appeal of your smile.

Call Triangle Dentistry

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of gum disease, contact Triangle Dentistry. Our team of dedicated dental professionals will evaluate your teeth and help you determine if you need scaling and root planing. We’ll get your teeth clean in our beautiful facility!

Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 847-6000