Dental Scaling and Root Planing Risks

Dental scaling and root planing is a commonly performed deep cleaning procedure designed to remove excessive plaque buildup and prevent the development of gum disease. During the dental scaling procedure tartar that has accumulated from along and below the gumline is removed to help restore your gums to a healthy state. Of course, the deep cleaning procedure seems like a good idea, but what exactly happens during the procedure and what are the potential risks? These are good questions. Below is more information about the dental scaling and root planing procedure.

What is Dental Scaling?

Plaque buildup along the gumline is a normal occurrence due to everyday eating and drinking. With the plaque, bacteria start to develop that is harmful for the gums and tissues of the mouth. If plaque and bacteria are left untreated, it can cause irritation to the gums resulting in the gums pulling away and the development of pockets between the gums and the teeth. Everyday brushing and flossing and professional cleanings are essential to remove plaque from the teeth and avoid the development of gum disease. For some, deeper cleaning may be necessary. The scaling procedure targets removing the buildup of plaque along and below the gumline and the planing procedure then smooths the surface of the root of the tooth.

Two common approaches to the dental scaling procedure:

  • Handheld instruments: Using a handheld metal scaler, a dentist will carefully scrape plaque away from the teeth. The dentist will work along and beneath the gumline to remove all of the plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Ultrasonic instruments: Using an electric ultrasonic tool that has a vibrating metal tip combined with a water sprayer, the dentist will clean along the gumline. The vibrating tip works to remove tartar and the water flushes the plaque away.

After dental scaling is complete, the root planing procedure is next. The goal of root planing is to work along the tooth’s root below the gumline and smooth the tooth’s surface, so when the gums heal, they reattach.

Risks of the Scaling and Planing Procedure

The dental scaling and root planing procedure is common and low-risk. In fact, one of the greatest risks associated with scaling and root planing may be not having the procedure done when it is needed. Without the deep cleaning, plaque buildup can lead to the dangerous progression of gum disease. Gum disease is associated with significant risks including tooth loss and bone infection. However, some potential risks of the procedure, include:

  • Reaction to medication or anesthesia
  • Post-procedure bleeding, pain, swelling, and bruising
  • Temporary increased sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain in the teeth
  • Need for changes to daily hygiene methods

It is important to note that while these risks can happen, many of them are temporary risks that will only last a few days. Once the scaling and planing procedure is complete, the gums will slowly become healthier and many of these post-procedure symptoms will be minimized as the gums heal.

What is Dental Scale & Root Planing?

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