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Why does my mouth need scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing is a treatment for periodontal disease. It involves removing the plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and roots of teeth. Your teeth and gums will be numbed so that the plaque and tartar can be removed painlessly. Removing this buildup will help the gums to heal along with good oral hygiene of brushing and flossing. Your dentist can diagose periodontal disease and recommend appropriate treatments for you. 
Maybe it doesn’t need it.

If you have gingivitis with no bone or attachment loss (loss of supporting tissue), you may only need a thorough cleaning, removal of supragingival calculus (tartar above the gum), followed by improved oral hygiene with brushing, flossing and interproximal cleaning. You may also consider rinsing with Listerine or plaque-reducing mouthwash.

Now if it is determined that you have periodontitis where there is increased probe depth below the gum, bone loss and loss of support for teeth, then root planning and scaling is the first phase of treatment. These procedures remove calculus below the gum and smooth the exposed root surfaces which help to reduce inflammation, minimize plaque accumulation and allow the gums to become healthier. If further treatment is necessary, which is not always the case, the gums will be healthier and heal better.

Of course, root planning and scaling will be of limited long term value if good oral hygiene is not practiced.

Sometimes despite diligent oral hygiene, you can still get gum disease. Watch as Dr. Maria Lopez Howell explains the procedure used to treat gum disease.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.