Scaling and Root Planing

Dental cleanings are an important step in your oral health. At Van Alstine Family Dentistry, we like to see our patients at least twice a year to remove plaque, tartar, and calculus that has accumulated on the surface and along the rim of your teeth. An important step in most of our adult patient’s cleaning appointment is a procedure known as scaling and root planing. This step will remove bacteria-filled plaque, tartar, and calculus that has developed below the gum line. Dr. Van Alstine is happy to evaluate your teeth, along with our highly trained professional hygienist, and determine if scaling and root planing is right for you.

Gum Disease

An all too common dental disorder is known as gum disease, about half of adults suffer from it. Gum disease is an active infection of the soft tissue, and if not properly handled, it will cause damage to your health, to your gums, and to your teeth. In fact, the number one reason for tooth loss in adults is gum disease.

Plaque is a naturally occurring material that our body forms, it is comprised of a blend of food debris and saliva. It is pale yellow and tends to collect between our teeth, on the surface, and along the gum ridge. Part of our daily oral hygiene is to brush away this bacteria filled material from our teeth. If we don’t, and the material remains in place, it will dry and harden into tartar or calculus. Once hardened this material is much harder to remove, and should only be removed by a hygienist to avoid damaging the enamel. Tartar or calculus that develops below the gum line leads to gum disease. You can often spot the signs of gum disease which includes gums that are irritated, red, puffy, or bleed when you brush or floss. This infection is so common that many of our patients miss the signs, thinking that it is normal to have these symptoms, many patients have said “it’s normal to bleed when you floss” this is just not true, bleeding when you floss is an indication of gum disease.

During your dental cleanings, we work to remove the source of the infection and help your gums restore to health. At the beginning of your dental cleaning appointment, you may hear the hygienist use numbers between 1-5 mm; this is the measurement of your gum pockets, an indication of the severity of the gum disease problem. Ideally, you want your gum pockets to be between 1-3 mm in depth. Anything more than 3 mm may require a deep cleaning, which is the process of scaling and root planing.

What Is Scaling And Root Planing?

Scaling is the process of removing hardened tartar or calculus from below the gumline. We can do this in two different ways, first by using an ultrasonic scaler which uses a powerful stream of water and oxygenated bubbles to blast the material away and then using a hand scaler tool to ensure that the job is complete. Root planing is the process of smoothing the tooth roots; we do this to help prevent future plaque material from adhering to the root, helping to protect your gums. This process can be uncomfortable, and some patients may request numbing medication to make the process easier.

We invite you to meet with Dr. Van Alstine for an evaluation to determine if scaling and root planing can improve your oral health. Contact our front desk at Van Alstine Family Dentistry Phone Number (734) 482-8500 for more information.