You finally make your way to the dentist’s chair. Yes, the visit is long overdue, but there were a lot of extenuating circumstances, right? Something about a worldwide pandemic. In the interim, you did brush and floss your teeth regularly, right? Even if you did, plaque can form on your gumline. Plaque doesn’t make exceptions for things like the coronavirus. So it’s there, and you may find yourself in a state of gum disease – the severity of which depends on how much plaque is there and whether it has turned into tartar.
So your dentist will examine that and they may tell you that you need a deep cleaning to get your teeth and gums in good condition again. They may use another term – scaling and root planing. What is it exactly? It sounds a bit intimidating. Simply put, it goes more in-depth under your gumline than a regular cleaning would.
This is usually only done with gum disease that has advanced beyond gingivitis, which can be reversed with the resumption of regular brushing and flossing. Gingivitis is the only form that can be reversed. Once it has progressed to periodontitis, then it’s going to require dental intervention. That’s what we’re seeing here with the deep cleaning.
The first thing the dentist wants to do is see how deep any pockets, if any, have formed in your gum line. They have a special instrument that can do that. You’re going to be fine if they find the pockets to be three millimeters or less, but they are going to have to look deeper if it’s more than four millimeters, since that’s usually a sign that the gums are now housing tartar.
Before the dentist proceeds any further after this, be sure to mention what kinds of medication you take or any conditions you may have. Chances are that they will already know this, but it’s always good to reinforce it in their minds and keep them from having to make any sudden changes early on in the procedure.
A regular cleaning can’t fix this, especially if there is tartar. You can’t brush tartar off once it’s hardened – only instruments made for that can do it. If you allow the tartar to stay, then the gum disease can rapidly worsen and then you can find yourself losing teeth… and possibly wind up infecting the rest of your body with bacteria from the gum disease, thanks to your mouth being an easy entrance point to your bloodstream.
The Scaling Process
The dentist will give you anesthesia for this. Otherwise you’re looking at a decent amount of pain, given that your gums will likely already be swollen and inflamed. The work will be broken up into four sections, applying the anesthetic to each part before beginning. Having an entire mouth being numb is no fun. Your dental insurance may also dictate this anesthetic procedure. Ultimately, it may have to be split up into two or more appointments.
Next, the dentist will look under the gumline and use specifically-made instruments to remove the tartar. The instruments may range from conventional scalers or they may even use a laser, which results in less swelling and bleeding. The dentist will have to undergo extra training in order to be able to use the laser for this procedure.
The Root Planing Process
Tartar and plaque will often build up not just below the gum line – it will reach the root of the tooth. This is where the structure of the tooth can rapidly crumble, since if the the root is compromised, then that will mean that the tooth can become quite unstable very quickly and thus fall out. The dentist will make sure that any plaque and tartar that has made its way there will be removed.
Not only can this help save the root, but it can give you back good breath, since the bacteria can greatly affect how well it smells. Once the dentist is finished, you will have a fluoride treatment and you also might need to use a microbial mouthwash to ensure that the bacteria is kept away.
Most of the time, this procedure will do its job as the first line of defense against gum disease. If it turns out that an infection is too deep or there’s no improvement, then the dentist has to look at other options, such as surgery.
If it’s successful, chances are good that your dentist will want to see you every three months until they know that your teeth and gums are back in good shape. In the interim, you need to brush and floss properly and use any prescription mouthwashes exactly as directed.
Gum disease is not something to ignore, but you should not avoid having this process done if your teeth are in trouble. You only get one set of adult teeth and losing them means you need to get replacements like dental implants or dentures, both of which can be more expensive than the deep cleaning. Then your wallet will be the one deep-cleaned.
The staff at Esthetix Dental Spa are experts at making sure that everything goes smoothly. Your teeth will never feel better after an appointment. Come see them at their Fort Washington office today! Call 212-795-9675.