Associates of Dental Arts
Dr. Gregory Kivett

Scaling and Root Planing vs Standard Cleaning

So you went to the dentist and were told you needed a scaling and root planing. Your dentist probably brought up things like swollen gums, deep pockets, bleeding gums, and gingivitis. But what is the difference between a cleaning and scaling and root planing and why can’t you just get a regular cleanings? These are totally normal questions but the bottom line is that gum disease (a.k.a. periodontal disease) can be a major issue for your mouth and your overall health. Besides the bleeding gums, bad breath and sensitivity, untreated gum disease can cause you to lose your teeth. Even though periodontal disease is an infection in your mouth and it can cause all kinds of issues for your body.  For example, gum disease has been linked to an increase in heart disease and can cause issues with blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Simple cleanings (along with good at home hygiene habits) can help avoid periodontal disease. But if you already have gum disease, you need more.

A simple cleaning cleans plaque and stains off of your teeth. By getting regular cleanings you make sure you do not get large buildups of plaque called calculus. The hygienist will normally scrape of the plaque by hand using scalers. However, if you have gum disease, the buildup of plaque is under your gums and is causing bleeding and irritation. You are already past the point of just needing a cleaning. In fact, getting a regular cleaning when you have gum disease can be worse because the bacteria can be dislodged without being completely removed and treated and cause infections in other parts of the body. In fact, a dental clearance is required for some surgeries to ensure that there is no gum infection that might infect the surgery site.  For you safety and the preservation of your teeth, a regular cleaning is not recommended if you have gum disease.

Besides the fact that a regular cleaning is ineffective and possibly dangerous when you have gum disease, the effectiveness of scaling and root planing make it an obvious choice. Scaling and root planing involves using an ultrasonic tool to remove the calculus and smooth the teeth around the root. Scaling and root planing will remove the calculus and (along with any prescribed antibiotics) will get rid of the infection under your gums. If you follow up with regular periodontal maintenance you can stop the gum disease and protect your teeth and body. Some people can be put off by the difference in price between a scaling and root planing and a regular cleaning, but the results of a scaling and root planing along with regular maintenance is the preservation of your teeth. Extractions and dentures can cost thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. Scaling and root planing is an effect way to treat gum disease and safe money.

If you have bleeding gums, swelling of the gums, receding gums or think you may have gum disease do yourself a favor and get it treated. You will save money and save your smile. It will be worth it.

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