Scaling and Root Planing
If you have a healthy mouth, or even if you have gingivitis, scaling and root planning (SRP) is not necessary. Small deposits of calculus and tartar can also be easily removed with a normal cleaning. This is when your hygienist uses hand instruments combined with an ultrasonic cleaner to most effectively remove bacteria which has hardened on your teeth.
If you have periodontal disease (any bone loss due to bacteria), it is impossible to clean these areas with home care or a regular cleaning; the bacteria has invaded deeper than can be normally cleaned, and it has started to dissolve the very bone which supports your teeth. To prevent this from progressing until there is no bone, and teeth are lost, a deeper cleaning is performed.
The procedure usually begins with administration of a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort. The process is similar to pulling asphalt and debris out of a wound after a fall. It must be done, but it is best if it is numb. Then, a small instrument called a “scaler,” or an ultrasonic cleaner, is used to clean beneath your gum line to remove plaque and tartar. The ultrasonic waves clean in areas where our hand instruments could never reach.
The root surfaces on the tooth are then planed and smoothed. This lets the gum tissue heal and reattach itself to the tooth.
Please click here for Gum Disease to see how to prevent this process.