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Root Planing and Scaling: Deep Cleaning Treatment Enhances Dental Health

Craig Goldin DDS Sep 12, 2014

An older couple together outdoorsThe team at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute in Troy offers the latest in general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry to enhance the health and beauty of your smile. This is coupled with patient education to ensure that you are well aware of what all your treatment options and decisions mean.

There's a phrase that many people have heard but misunderstand: root planing and scaling. We want to use this post to explore this treatment and why it's crucial for enhancing dental health?

What is root planing and scaling?

Also known as deep cleaning, root planing and root scaling involves the cleaning of the teeth down at the gumline, a place that is hard to reach for patients even if they brush and floss diligently. Root planing and root scaling prevents tooth decay in this area and also helps fight and prevent gum disease.

How Deep Cleaning Differs from Traditional Dental Cleanings

While a phrase like “deep cleaning” makes the root planing and scaling process seem like a more involved version of traditional dental cleanings, that is not the case. A traditional dental cleaning simply uses an electric brush and toothpaste to clean the most visible surfaces of the teeth. Deep cleaning, by contrast, uses specialized scraping tools in order to really access the area around the gumline.

Root Planing and Root Scaling: What's the Difference?

Many people think that root planing and root scaling are the same thing, but they are actually two different actions that make up a deep cleaning:

  • Root planing refers to the removal of any infected or damaged tooth structure located around the gumline and the smoothing down of uneven material
  • Root scaling, on the other hand, refers to the removal of plaque and tartar deposits at the gumline with the use of a scraping tool

What to Expect from Deep Cleaning Procedure

Deep cleaning is performed using local anesthetic in order to prevent any major discomfort for patients. Sedation may also be part of the treatment process if needed. In addition, only one-quarter to one-half of a patient's mouth will be cleaned during a session. An additional visit or visits will be necessary to deep clean the whole mouth.

While patients are under anesthetic, the dentist and the hygienist will carefully use their tools to clean and scrape the teeth around the gumline. The procedure can last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the amount of work that needs to be performed in the treatment area.

Why is deep cleaning only performed on part of the mouth?

There are two reasons why multiple sessions for deep cleaning are better than one session.

First, the local anesthetic will numb that portion of the mouth for the rest of the day. Rather than pose a major inconvenience to the patient by anesthetizing the entire mouth, working in quadrants helps reduce the interruption to eating, speaking, and other normal activities.

Second, deep cleaning takes time. We don't want to rush the process so we can thoroughly clean the teeth without harming a patient. If a dentist were to do the entire mouth in one session, this could take a very long time, which can prove a major hassle for the patient. Multiple sessions work better in the end.

What to Expect After Deep Cleaning Is Performed

After a deep cleaning session, patients can expect their teeth and gums to feel tender. Patients should eat soft foods that are lukewarm in temperature to prevent discomfort or sensitivity. In addition, they should brush and floss as usual, though with greater gentleness when it comes to the area that has been deep cleaned.

Learn More About Root Planing and Scaling

If you would like more information about all of your options for achieving excellent dental health, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Craig Goldin, Dr. Marcy Goldin, Dr. Amy Carlino, and the entire team at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute are here to help you have the healthiest and most beautiful smile possible.

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