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Scaling and Root Planing

Targeting the Root Cause of Gum Disease

Smiling woman in a brown sweater

At The Smilist Dental Medford, we carefully monitor your gums at every checkup. If we see bleeding or swollen gums that indicate gingivitis (the first stage of gum disease), we’ll encourage you to get more frequent cleanings and do more brushing and flossing at home. But if we see more advanced signs of gum problems, we’ll recommend a type of gum disease treatment called scaling and root planing. This “deep cleaning” is the first line of defense to prevent the many serious consequences of gum disease and keep your smile in great shape. Learn more about this procedure below and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

How Does Scaling and Root Planing Work?

Dental hygienist performing scaling and root planing

Scaling and root planing is typically done over 2-4 visits, depending on the severity of your gum disease and how much plaque and tartar is there. We’ll begin by numbing your gums to make sure you stay comfortable (nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is also available on request). From there, one of our gentle, experienced hygienists will use special instruments to scale your teeth, which simply means thoroughly removing plaque and tartar. Next, we’ll plane (or smooth) any rough areas on the roots of your teeth to discourage bacteria from re-accumulating.

The Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing

A dental cleaning on the lower teeth

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss because it destroys the supportive structures that keep your teeth in place. It’s also been found to increase the risk of many serious conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia
  • Stroke
  • Certain cancers
  • Pregnancy complications

Gum scaling reduces all of these risks. But it’s crucial to follow it up with ongoing maintenance care and good oral hygiene habits at home.

What Can You Expect After Scaling and Root Planing?

Smiling woman in the dental chair

As a dentist with your best interests at heart, our goal is to maintain your progress over the long-term. After your initial treatment with scaling and root planing, we’ll recommend coming in for dental cleanings (called periodontal maintenance) every 3, 4, or 6 months, depending on your needs. These visits allow us to remove plaque and bacteria that you can’t remove at home and keep a close eye on things to make sure your gums stay healthy.

We’ll also talk about your oral hygiene habits at home, which will be an essential part of maintaining your gum health. This includes helping you with your brushing and flossing technique as well as recommending the best tools for your needs (e.g. toothbrushes, floss aids, oral irrigators, etc.) By working together as a team, we can help you maintain a healthy smile for life.