Scaling and Root Planing
The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or a preventative measure. They are commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease.
The tooth roots may also be planed to smooth the root surface allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. In some cases, the occlusion (bite) may require adjustment.
Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, the doctor may place antibiotic fibers in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.
When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for the doctor to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.