Your dentist walks into the room and recommends a deep root cleaning. You are not sure what this advice is, but just from the name, it does not sound good. Don’t stress, A deep root cleaning, also know as Scaling and Root Planing, is a painless procedure that is not only essential for your dental health, but also important for your overall health and well-being.
A deep root cleaning is recommended for patients who have periodontal disease, which can be dangerous. Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums where plaque adheres to a tooth and progresses to grow below the gum line, causing the bond between your teeth and the gums to pull apart creating an open pocket. When left untreated, this plaque begins to destroy your teeth, surrounding gum tissue, and eventually the bone supporting your jaw and teeth.
Most dentists check for periodontal disease three different ways. The first way is by using a probe to measure the depth of the gums from the bottom of the pocket to the top of the gums. A probe reading of more than three millimeters is a sign of periodontal disease, and typically, the deeper the pockets, the greater the spread of the disease. Another way a dentist can check for periodontal disease is through x-rays. In a healthy mouth, bone comes high around the necks of the teeth, but in a mouth with advanced periodontal disease, the bone level is much lower and uneven. By simply examining the x-rays, a dentist will be able to see these problems and develop a treatment plan. The final way a dentist can diagnose this problem is by one common symptom- bleeding gums. Healthy gums do not bleed; however, bleeding gums, especially while being measured by the probe, signals infection.
Nearly 75% of all American adults are affected by some sort of periodontal disease. When this disease infects the mouth, basic routine cleaning are not enough to eliminate the infection because they focus solely on the areas of the tooth that are above the gum line. This is when a deep root cleaning is advised because it allows the dentist or hygienist to remove the plaque, tartar, and bacteria toxins on the surface of the tooth below the gum line, producing a truly clean smile. If there are only a few areas where periodontal disease has formed, dentists will normally recommend that those teeth be treated at one time. However, if the infection is more widespread, a dentist may recommend treating only one or two sections of the mouth at a time, spacing the treatment out over several appointments.
During the cleaning, a dentist will numb the mouth, ensuring that this procedure is painless. Next a hygienist will use a special instrument that will allow him or her to remove the plaque and tartar around the tooth and smooth the root surface. Depending on the severity of the disease, the dentist may also apply fluoride or medication to the area to help eliminate the bacteria and strengthen the teeth.
It is important to note that periodontal disease is irreversible and extremely dangerous when left untreated. Bone cannot be replaced and advanced gum disease is linked to major health problems including heart disease, respiratory problems, stroke, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Fortunately, treatments like Scale and Root Planing are available to remove the source of the infection, help gum tissue heal and tighten around teeth, preserve existing teeth, avoid painful and costly gum surgery, and ensure a healthy smile and a healthier body.