“Last month, I blogged about the causes of gum disease,” says Dr. Jamie J. Alexander of Boynton Beach, FL. “This month, I would like to talk honestly with patients about a treatment they dislike. This treatment is Scaling and Root Planing (SRP). Patients tell me they fear this treatment because they fear the discomfort, time in the dental chair, post-treatment gum sensitivity, and oftentimes, the expense of treatment. They also wonder if they REALLY need the treatment. Stories are rampant among patients of dentists recommending what is perceived to be unnecessary treatment, so I understand. I do understand why patients question the need for a treatment like SRP. After all, this isn’t a case of treating an acutely painful tooth or a lost tooth.”
Scaling and Root Planing is conservative treatment to halt infection in the gum tissue before it does extensive damage to tooth roots, gum tissue, and periodontal bone. “Because this is a preventive treatment, as much as it is a healing treatment, and because some patients are not bothered by the infection present in their mouths, they often delay scheduling treatment until they are in pain or teeth become compromised,” says Dr. Alexander.
At Jamie J. Alexander, D.D.S., scaling and root planing treatment is recommended when the gum tissue and bone surrounding teeth are chronically inflamed or a periodontal infection has been advancing. “Vicki, Tammy and I will observe gum pockets deepening to 5 mm, we will observe bleeding when probing, and we will observe plaque and tartar extending below the gum line along root surfaces,” says Dr. Alexander. “This is the time when an intervention with SRP is needed.”
If the plaque and tartar below the gumline are not removed, the gum tissue will continue pulling away from teeth causing gum recession. There will be an increased risk for tooth root decay, bone decay, and teeth becoming loose. In addition, chronic or acute inflammation in the mouth has been demonstrated by thousands of studies to contribute to inflammatory diseases throughout the body.
“I want to assure my patients,” says Dr. Alexander, “that if I recommend this treatment, it is because I truly have their best interest in mind. There is a disease process occurring that will advance if left untreated. It can lead to more extensive surgical treatment and dental restorations, and it can make systemic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes worse. SRP is a conservative treatment, during which the gum tissue is fully numbed, the plaque and tarter are scraped off the entire tooth surface (both above and below the gum line), and the entire surface of the tooth (including the roots) is smoothed to make it more difficult for bacterial biofilm to develop. Yes, there will be gum sensitivity for a few days after the treatment — but overall, the benefits will far, far outweigh allowing the infection to advance.”
At Jamie J. Alexander, D.D.S., in Boynton Beach, we take time with patients to answer all questions. And, we will help you with payment options if you do not have dental insurance to cover the dentistry you need.
“If you need scaling and root planing (SRP), also commonly known as a deep cleaning,” says Dr. Alexander, “You can trust us to kindly encourage you, treat you, and support you in minimizing discomfort. We hope you proceed with what is in your best interest. And, that best interest is battling infection below the gum line before it destroys precious gum tissue, tooth roots, and bone tissue. If you are hesitant to proceed with recommended care, bravely talk about it with me. Together, we’ll find a way to move forward, so you comfortably receive the treatment you need.”