Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a deep gum cleaning treatment that is usually recommended to patients with gum disease (periodontitis) in order to preserve the underlying bone and the teeth themselves. People that suffer from gum disease tend to have excessive tartar (hardened plaque that sits on the teeth and gums), which means that there is also excessive bacteria growth in the mouth. If the tartar is not removed from the teeth and from underneath the gums, tooth loss among other negative dental health consequences may occur. Luckily, there are ways to treat gum disease and keep tartar at bay. Due to its effectiveness, scaling and root planing is considered the primary standard of treatment for gum disease.

What goes on during a typical scaling and root planing procedure?

Typically, scaling and root planing appointments involve the following steps in order to fully treat and maintain oral hygiene:

Step 1: The gums are numbed with a local anesthetic in order to ensure a more comfortable patient experience. Usually, only one side of the mouth is treated first, requiring a second appointment to treat the other side of the mouth.

Step 2: The dental professional will use an ultrasonic tool, a scaler and/or a curette to help loosen and remove the hardened plaque from underneath the gums.

Step 3: The hygienist then smooths out the roots of the teeth in order to help the gums reattach to the teeth, encouraging the healing process. Depending on the case, topical medication may be inserted underneath the gum line and oral medication may or may not be prescribed as well.

Step 4: Once the treatment (of the one side) is complete, your dental professional will ask you to come back within 1 week to complete the opposing side of the mouth, then again in one month for a follow-up. After your one month follow up appointment, you will be advised to come in every 3 or 4 months for periodontal maintenance.

What should patients expect following their scaling and root planing appointment?

Immediately following the SRP treatment, the gums may still be numb. Eventually, when the numbness wears off, the gums will likely be tender, inflamed, and may or may not bleed. Inflammation and soreness should subside within 1 week following your appointment. The following five tips may help to ease discomfort and swelling after your appointment:

1. Over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain.

2. Avoid very hot foods and beverages, as well as anything spicy or acidic for 48 hours.

3. Try to eat on the opposing side of the mouth that hasn’t just been treated.

4. Warm saltwater mouth rinses will help to keep the treated areas clean and promote healing.

5. Make sure to follow any additional instructions from your dental health provider.

Gum disease can be a relatively uncomfortable condition, causing gum recession, tooth sensitivity, toothaches, tooth decay, bad breath, loosened teeth, and bone loss if it is not treated. In order to treat gum disease and keep your mouth healthy, it’s most important to visit your dentist every 3-4 months for a deep gum cleaning. Advanced DDS is a full-service dental practice on Long Island where our team of highly experienced dentists provide exceptional care, going above and beyond for all patients. Schedule your dental hygiene appointment at 516-825-1100.

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