Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing are two common steps performed in most adult dental cleaning appointments. In simpler terms, it is the removal of hardened plaque, known as tartar or calculus. Removing this material, that naturally accumulates on your teeth, is important to the health of your teeth. Our staff, including our professional hygienist and Dr. Hablutzel, can help.
Some level of gum disease is a common problem for many adults. It’s a bacterial infection of the gums from plaque being allowed to remain in place. To help patients keep gum disease at bay, we can remove plaque, tartar, and calculus through scaling and root planing.
Why is it important to remove tartar?Tartar is plaque that has dried hard on your teeth. It is a blend of food and saliva, and this combination is a breeding ground and feast for bacteria. Many of the foods we eat contain sugar, and bacteria eat sugar. As it eats the sugar, bacteria then release an acidic waste product that decays the enamel of our teeth causing the holes that we identify as cavities, or caries.
If you look in a mirror, you may see yellowish gummy material along with your gum line, or between your teeth, this is a plaque. We brush and floss our teeth regularly as an effort to remove plaque, food, and bacteria from our teeth. If we do not remove it, or at least remove all of it, the plaque will dry and harden into a material known as tartar or calculus. Tartar is darker in color, sometimes can even appear black, and it is difficult to remove, in fact to reduce damage to the enamel, it should only be removed by a hygienist. Tartar promotes decay.
ScalingScaling is the removal of tartar. This can be done in a couple of different ways, by hand with a scaling tool or through the use of an ultrasonic scaler which is a power tool designed to blast the material away. In most cases, we take advantage of both tools.
Ultrasonic ScalerThe ultrasonic scaler uses a rapidly vibrating tip and a directed stream of water. Along with considerable water, we will also continuously suction during treatment. The ultrasonic scaler is mostly painless, though some patients may describe parts of it as being uncomfortable, we can apply a local anesthetic when needed. Using the ultrasonic scaler, we can loosen and remove tartar and calculus. This tool does a fabulous job, and much more quickly than possible by hand. Most patients love the results.
Hand ScalingFollowing the use of the ultrasonic scaler, the hygienist will then use the hand scaler to check all areas for any missed calculus. This tool is used to gently scrape tartar away.
Root PlaningFollowing the removal of tartar, the next step is to smooth the roots of the tooth. This is known as root planing, and it does two different function, it induces a healing response from your gum tissue, and it makes it more difficult for plaque to attach in the future. This will help keep your teeth and gums healthier along with a dedicated hygiene routine going forward.