Have you been told you have gum disease? Gum disease is all too common, with nearly 50% of all American adults suffering from some stage of the disease. If left untreated, it can worsen and have serious consequences, such as chronic bad breath, deterioration of the jaw bone, tooth loss, and even heart or lung disease via the spread of oral bacteria in the bloodstream. Fortunately, gum disease is also very preventable and treatable!
The first step to preventing gum disease is always to have good oral hygiene – make sure to brush and floss every day, and visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. The earliest stages of gum disease (gingivitis) can usually be eliminated and reversed with a simple regular dental cleaning and by brushing and flossing daily. For more advanced stages of gum disease (periodontitis), a more advanced type of dental cleaning is necessary, called Scaling and Root Planing (SRP).
What is Scaling and Root Planing?
Scaling and Root Planing (SRP) is a non-surgical process using special techniques to thoroughly clean away plaque, tartar and bacteria below the gum line all the way down to your teeth roots. It is often the first and only recommended treatment for periodontal disease. SRP is sometimes casually referred to as a dental “deep cleaning,” but the technical and accurate term “Scaling and Root Planing” describes the two specific techniques involved:
Scaling - thoroughly removes all plaque, toxins and tartar deposits from the teeth and pockets (spaces around teeth under the gum line), both above and below the gum line.
Root Planing - smooths the rough areas on teeth root surfaces, which makes it more difficult for bacteria, plaque and tartar to adhere to the root surfaces, and easier for the gums to heal and reattach themselves to the tooth.
SRP is highly successful at preventing gum disease from advancing and, provided the patient continues to keep up with good oral hygiene and care, often eliminates the disease entirely.
What to Expect from a Scaling & Root Planing Treatment
An SRP treatment takes longer than a regular cleaning, but can still often be done in a single one-to-two hour visit. However, if there are numerous trouble spots or the infection is widespread, your dentist will usually work on one or two quadrants of your mouth per visit.
Most patients experience no pain during an SRP, though many prefer a local anesthetic to numb the area and minimize any sensation during the process. Your gums will feel tender for a few days following the procedure, and some patients experience mild throbbing or slight bleeding. Your teeth may also be sensitive to hot and cold for a few days after as your teeth and gums adjust and continue healing.
Your dentist will provide you with homecare instructions based on your specific condition (such as extra gentle brushing, a mouth rinse, a desensitizing toothpaste, etc.). They will likely also schedule a follow up appointment 4-6 weeks after to ensure your gums are healthy. Most patients respond very well to SRP. In most periodontitis cases, SRP (along with practicing good oral hygiene at home) reverses periodontal disease and greatly improves oral health.
Untreated gum disease has far reaching negative effects for not just oral health, but whole body health. Scaling and Root Planing is highly recommended - and highly successful - at treating patients with periodontal disease. Get back to talking, smiling, and eating with comfort and confidence again – Contact us to schedule your dental consultation today!
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