Scaling and root planing, also known as conventional periodontal therapy, non-surgical periodontal therapy or deep cleaning, is a procedure involving removal of dental plaque and calculus (scaling or debridement) and then smoothing, or planing, of the exposed surfaces of the roots, removing cementum or dentin that is covered with calculus, toxins, and microorganisms, the etiologic agents that cause inflammation to the gum tissue and surrounding bone. It is a part of non-surgical periodontal therapy.
SRP is very effective for individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and moderate/severe periodontal disease.
Scaling and root planning can be used both as a preventative measure and as a stand-alone treatment. These procedures are performed as a preventative measure for patients with a periodontitis.
Here are some reasons why SRP may be necessary:
Disease prevention – The oral bacteria which cause periodontal infections can travel via the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Research has shown that lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal bacteria. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria and stops periodontal disease from progressing, thus preventing the bacteria from traveling to other parts of the body.
Tooth protection – When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, there is a greater risk of periodontal disease. As pockets deepen, they tend to house more colonies of dangerous bacteria. Eventually, a chronic inflammatory response by the body begins to destroy gingival and bone tissue which may lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss.
Aesthetic effects – Scaling and root planing help remove tartar and plaque from the teeth and below the gumline. As an added bonus, if superficial stains are present on the teeth, they will be removed in the process of the scaling and root planning procedure.
Better breath – One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis (bad breath). Food particles and bacteria can cause a persistent bad odor in the oral cavity which usually goes away after SRP.
Scaling and root planing treatments are only performed after a thorough examination of the mouth. Our periodontal specialist will take X-rays, conduct visual examinations and perform periodontal probing and only then will make a diagnosis before recommending or beginning SRP. Depending on the current condition of the gums, the amount of calculus (tartar) present, the depth of the pockets and the progression of the periodontitis, local anesthetic may be used.
Scaling – This procedure is usually performed with special dental instruments and may include an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool removes calculus and plaque from the surface of the tooth crown and root surfaces. In many cases, the scaling tool includes an irrigation process that can also be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gum line that can help reduce oral bacteria.
Root Planing – This procedure is a specific treatment which serves to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed in order to promote good healing. Having clean, smooth root surfaces prevents bacteria from easily colonizing in future.
Following these deep cleaning procedures, the gum pockets may be treated with antibiotics. This will soothe irritation and help the gum tissue to heal quickly.
During the next appointment, periodontist or hygienist will thoroughly examine gums again to see how well the pockets have healed. If the gum pockets still measure more than 3mm in depth, additional and more intensive treatments may be recommended.
If you have any periodontal concerns, please call 201-840-0045 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Leonard Swerdlof.