Dental scaling is a non-surgical deep cleaning when plaque and tartar (harden plaque, calculus) are removed from above and below the gum line.

Root planing is the process when the teeth roots are smoothed in order to help your gums reattach to the root.

A routine dental cleaning differs from dental scaling and root planing (SRP), which is referred to as a deep cleaning. Deep cleanings go below the gum line unlike a routine dental cleaning which stays above the gum line.

The human mouth is full of bacteria. The bacteria, mucus, and other particles in our mouth form a sticky coating on our teeth referred to as “dental plaque”. When dental plaque hardens, it becomes tartar (calculus) and the bacteria associated to the tartar begins affecting the surrounding gums, tissue, and bone. Early gum disease (periodontal disease) is called gingivitis and can lead to more severe periodontitis.

Periodontitis is an infection and inflammatory disease that leads to the destruction of the gums, tissue, and bone surrounding the affected teeth. Often the gums become red, swollen, tender, and bleed easily. Over time this leads to bone loss, receding gums, and eventually tooth loss.  This can cause chronic bad breath, pain to chewing, loose teeth, and very sensitive teeth. Once periodontitis gets to a certain level, it requires surgical intervention to save the teeth and surrounding bone.

Some risk factors for periodontal disease:

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Gingivitis
  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor oral hygiene (lack of flossing and brushing)
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Recreational drug use
  • Genetics and family history
  • Medications
  • Poor nutrition
  • Some systemic and autoimmune diseases
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)

In certain cases, we refer to a periodontist, specialist in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. When a patient has periodontal disease that cannot be managed in our office, or has certain gum tissue complications, we bring in the expertise of one of our local periodontists. Once our patients see the periodontist, we generally set up a schedule that rotates between the periodontist’s and our office to maintain good periodontal health.

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