What is root planing?
SUMMARY: Don't skip on brushing and flossing - you don't want to encounter root planing in your future.
Posted: July 18, 2014
If you skip those brushing and flossing sessions too much or aren't diligent about your oral health care needs, a dental professional may recommend root planing - also called dental scaling. These terms often strike fear into even the most confident of dental office-goers, so it's important to clear up what this procedure is and who is the most at-risk for it.
Root planing and gum disease
One of the main reasons why dentists recommend root planing is due to the development of late-stage gum disease. This is often because patients will tend to skip their dental visits, which includes the removal of plaque along the gumline. If this substance stays near the gumline too long, it can result in painful, sore, infected gums that lead to bleeding. Plaque is also a major contributor to halitosis and increases the chances of anaerobic bacteria multiplying in your mouth. Gums can also begin to pull away from the teeth, which results in hard mineral tartar deposits. These are tell-tale signs that your chompers have entered the late stages of gum disease.
In these cases, a dentist will try to remove the plaque by cleaning or "irrigating" the space between your teeth and gums all the way down to the roots to remove the plaque and reduce the chances of infection. If a growth is already present, a dentist might also use antibiotic fibers to kill off the bacteria. Though not usually painful, dental scaling takes time and can become uncomfortable, so a professional will often utilize local anesthesia. Many times, a dentist will then schedule a follow-up appointment about six weeks from the procedure to see how your gums are doing and will likely schedule regular dental cleanings every three months instead of the usual six months to ensure that bacteria and plaque aren't creeping in.
Post root planing plans
After the procedure is over and the numbness has worn off, your gums might feel sore for a few days, but don't worry - this is merely a sign of your gums healing, becoming firm and reattaching to the dental surface. During this time, routine dental care like brushing and flossing is crucial in preventing dental plaque from coming back. Flossing is particularly important, as it is one of the best ways to remove plaque and bacteria from those pesky hard-to-reach places between your gums and teeth. If you aren't up to the task, the gum disease will either return or progress.
Smokers need to be extra cautious during this time as well. Tobacco products are known to reduce the immune system's forces to fight infections and could prevent your gums from healing. Better yet, this is an excellent time to quit the habit for good.