Non-Surgical Treatments For Gum Disease

Jamie J. Alexander on May 31, 2016

What is scaling and root planing, and how are they used to treat gum disease?

Scaling and root planing are standard procedures for the non-surgical treatment of gum disease that has advanced below the gum line. The goal is to remove dental plaque and bacterial infection. The scaling procedure cleans tooth surfaces and root surfaces below the gum line. The root planing procedure is done to smooth these tooth and root surfaces. Special tools are used, and antibiotics are sometimes prescribed. Scaling and root planing help reduce bacteria, remove diseased tissue, and halt destruction of periodontal bone and gum tissue due to infection. When this is accomplished, gum tissue has an opportunity to heal.

The necessity for scaling and root planning is diagnosed by 3 key indicators:

  • Radiographic: Visual deposits of calculus (tartar) on the root surfaces of teeth on x-ray
  • Periodontal Pocket Measurements: Healthy tissues around teeth typically have a measurement of 1-4mm. Measurements of 5mm and larger indicate non-cleansable, unhealthy gum pockets.
  • Visual: Visual assessment of swelling, redness and bleeding. Hallmark signs of disease in the body.

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Our expert dental hygienists perform the scaling and root planing procedures. Vicki and Tammy and truly are the periodontal experts in our practice. After scaling and root planing, both Dr. Alexander and Vicki or Tammy will want to reassess your periodontal status in four to six weeks. If infection persists, referral to a trusted periodontal specialist is recommended. Dr. Alexander partners with expert periodontists and who perform minimally invasive periodontal surgery and will give careful attention to your comfort and post-operative care.

Patients are typically concerned that scaling and root planing will be painful. You will be comfortably numbed during treatment. For the first day or two after the treatment, your gums may be tender. Usually over-the-counter-pain reliever is adequate to provide comfort. Dr. Alexander, will make sure you have what you need to be comfortable.