Falls Church VA General Dentist Discusses Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is a procedure that is commonly referred to as a “deep cleaning” in lay terms. Although these kinds of slang terms generally miss the mark, this one actually makes sense. A scaling and root planing (SRP) is a type of tooth-cleaning treatment that is prescribed when a basic cleaning won’t get the job done. 
Why You Might Need Scaling and Root Planing
This procedure is often recommended when you have a large amount of calculus on your teeth. Calculus is hardened plaque and tartar, which is nearly impossible to removed without specialized instruments. Most of the time, this hardened plaque accumulates below the gum line, meaning that the area must be numb in order for the cleaning to be thorough. “Scaling” consists of removing the built-up calculus and “planing” consists of filing the sides of the teeth so that they are glassy smooth, making future calculus buildup less likely. The reason that this calculus accumulates in the first place is lack of proper at-home dental care, particularly lack of flossing. 
If calculus is not removed, it can continue to have adverse effects, such as gum recession, gum inflammation, loss of bone, and potentially loss of teeth. 
How Scaling and Root Planing is Done
Because it requires a bit more time and work than a regular cleaning, an SRP is usually done in more than appointment, or by quadrants. For example, at one appointment you may have just your upper right done. 
The first step in SRP is for the dentist to numb the areas being cleaned. A dental hygienist almost always performs the SRP itself. Because the patient is numb during the procedure, only minor discomfort is to be expected. Once the treatment is complete and the anesthetic has worn off, there may be some discomfort in the areas that were cleaned. Your dentist will probably recommend ibuprofen as a good option for helping with any post-SRP pain. 
What to Do When SRP is Complete
Once the entire mouth has been scaled and planed, it is essential to maintain a regular dental care routine in order to prevent the same problems from re-occurring. Your Falls Church, VA general dentist will likely create a customized plan for your dental health in the months after SRP is complete until your oral health appears stable. 
Scaling and Root Planing is an important step in many patients’ journey to a healthier mouth.  
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