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Scaling & Root Planing

Scaling & Root Planing in Hyattsville & Silver Spring

Dentists spend a significant amount of time trying to keep their patients’ teeth clean, to such an extent that everyone’s regular, biannual dental check-up is usually accompanied by a cleaning performed by a dental hygienist. Most of the time, these cleanings are enough to prevent oral health problems from developing, but there are situations in which more serious measures need to be taken.

We are referring to the deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing. Dentists that perform scaling and root planing, like Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental, do so to ensure that their patients’ teeth are completely clean and bacteria-free, which may be necessary to solve oral health problems like periodontitis (described below).

What is the scaling and root planing procedure?

  • The scaling and root planing procedure has two parts: one that occurs on the visible part of the tooth (scaling) and another direct toward the part of the tooth that is beneath the gums (root planing). Both require specialized tools to complete, and both are designed to wipe the tooth clean of any bacteria buildup.

  • The procedure typically begins with the application of a local anesthetic designed to ease the sensations of the process. This is necessary not because the procedure requires any surgical steps, but because scaling and root planing is usually prescribed when the gums sensitive and painful to the touch. The local anesthetic will numb the area and allow your dentist to operate without causing you, the patient, any undue distress.

  • After the anesthetic starts working, your dentist will get to work, using a combination of manual instruments and ultrasonic devices to pinpoint bacteria buildup on the teeth. Specifically, two things are targeted: plaque (bacteria that stay on the teeth as a clear, sticky film) and tartar (hard, mineralized colonies that create a crust around the gums). During dental scaling, your dentist will carefully scrape away these sources of bacteria, leaving the tooth newly cleaned and infection-free.

  • Once the visible parts of the tooth have been cleaned, your dentist will move on to the parts of the tooth hidden by the gums. The root planing phase is similar to scaling, only it occurs beneath the gums. Your dentist will carefully get rid of any plaque buildup that affects the roots of the tooth. Additionally, to aid the healing process, antibiotic fibers can be applied during root planing to combat the infection in the region. The roots will then be smoothed down to make it harder for food and bacteria to stick to them in the future.

When might scaling and root planing be necessary?

As you can probably infer from the above description of the procedure, scaling and root planing is a restorative process that is typically prescribed when a patient has a bacterial infection in the gums. In other words, it’s a procedure used to combat periodontitis, a type of gum disease.

Periodontitis is a fairly serious oral health issue, and it develops when harmful bacteria irritate and infect in the gums. Although it may start out with relatively innocuous symptoms, severe periodontitis could cause tooth loss and jawbone degradation over time. Common symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen, and sensitive gums;
  • Gums that bleed easily (for example, when brushing your teeth);
  • Gums that are sensitive to heat changes (like icy or hot drinks);
  • Gums that appear to be receding (you can tell if the tooth seems to be getting longer);
  • Teeth that feel loose in their socket or that shift around;
  • Pockets or gaps that develop between the gums and a tooth; or,
  • Persistent bad breath.

As serious as it may be, though, periodontitis is also fairly simple for Dr. Gotora to treat once he diagnoses the problem. Thus, if you ever experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact Dr. Gotora to get a professional assessment and diagnosis. It’s always better to report a false alarm than to let the periodontitis continue to grow worse untreated, plus, a quicker response time in initiating treatment can make a huge difference in the healing process.

You can set up an appointment with Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental in Maryland at any time to discuss your oral health. Dr. Gotora is always happy to discuss potential treatment options with his patients in Maryland. Just call our office at (301) 754-1900 or visit our website to set up a time to talk today!