Gum disease is the most frequent cause of tooth loss. However, if treated early, most cases of gum disease can be reversed. The most common and effective treatment for gum disease is root planing and scaling, which removes bacteria-filled tartar under the gums.
The primary cause of gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is the accumulation of bacterial plaque at and under the gum line. Plaque is essentially bacteria and food debris that sticks to teeth, providing a breeding ground for bacteria. Often colorless, plaque is constantly attaching itself to teeth and must be removed on a regular basis.
Over time, plaque that is not removed combines with natural minerals in the mouth to form tartar, a hardened version of plaque that requires a professional dental cleaning to remove. The next line of defense, root planing and scaling, becomes necessary when plaque and tartar seep below the gum line.
If you’ve noticed red and swollen gums or bleeding, this may be the early stages of gum disease. You should consider seeing a dentist. Dr. Thomas G. Zarger, Jr., a general and cosmetic dentist serving the Knoxville area, offers root planing and scaling along with general dentistry and restoration work, such as veneers, implants, and porcelain crowns.
Root planing and scaling are effective treatments for gum disease. Unlike a typical dental cleaning at the dentist’s office, root planing and scaling cleans below the gum line, removing otherwise inaccessible bacterial plaque and tartar that can destroy gums and bone.
The treatment is done in two stages. Scaling is the process of removing the plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. It is followed by root planing, which smooths the rough spots left by scaling. Root planing is important because scraping off the plaque and tartar during scaling leaves a jagged surface that acts like a magnet for bacteria and plaque. Smoothing the surface will make your teeth less hospitable to bacteria and also create a smooth surface for gums to reattach after treatment.
Root planing and scaling is typically done with gums that have started to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria and tartar collect. Though working below the gum line sounds serious, this simple treatment causes little discomfort. If needed, a local anesthetic to numb your gums and roots will be used.
For many patients, this treatment will be all that is needed to rid themselves of the inflammation and infection. However, if gum disease is advanced, more aggressive treatment may be required.
Root planing and scaling are not a lifetime cure for gum disease. Your teeth are under daily attack from plaque and require daily oral care and regular dental visits to keep plaque at bay.
If you have concerns about plaque or have noticed symptoms of gum disease, such as red, swollen, or bleeding gums, please call us for a consultation. Early forms of gum disease are reversible, but if left untreated it can lead to permanent gum recession or tooth loss.