With regular cleanings and check-ups, you can keep your natural smile for a lifetime. Prevention begins with the control of plaque and calculus, the main cause of decay and periodontal disease. In fact, the major cause of tooth loss in adults is periodontal disease, which is known as the silent killer of teeth because most patients feel no symptoms until it’s too late.
In order to maintain a healthy smile, dental cleanings should be performed at least every six months to remove plaque and tartar. If plaque is left on teeth, either above or below the gum line, it can lead to unhealthy gums, bone loss, and/or tooth decay. Dental cleanings should include scaling, root planing and polishing, along with a complete periodontal evaluation.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces using a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar. Scaling is traditionally performed by dental hygienists. Advanced technology has lead to more modern methods such as ultrasonic scalers which allow dental cleanings to be performed more more efficiently. Sometimes both ultrasonic and manual scaling methods are combined for dental cleanings to give you the best results.
Dental hygienists perform periodontal evaluations which involves the measurement of the space, or “pocket” between the tooth and gum to the level of bone that surrounds each tooth. These measurements are recorded along with the presence of any gum recession and / or mobility for each tooth.
Root planing is the process of cleaning the area around each tooth called “periodontal pockets,” to treat and/or prevent gum disease.
Root planing is used to effectively treat moderate to severe gum disease. Periodontal pockets become deeper and may lose connections to the bone surrounding each tooth when gums are inflamed. The deeper the pockets, the easier it is for plaque to become trapped and worsen the gum disease.
Root planing involves the use of both ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments to effectively remove both tartar and plaque from periodontal pockets. Depending on the degree of difficulty, root planing may take multiple appointments and local anesthesia may be used to prevent discomfort.