Scaling and Root Planing

The objective of scaling and root planing (SRP) is to remove the agents attached to the teeth, which cause inflammation to the gingiva and surrounding bone.  The two main causes of periodontal disease that are removed by this conservative periodontal therapy are dental plaque (bacteria) and tartar (calculus). SRP is accomplished with hand instruments and/or ultrasonic instruments, which are used on the tooth surface in the periodontal pockets.

This is a non-surgical form of therapy which has been used for many years to treat mild to moderate forms of periodontal disease. It is also used as the first phase of treatment in more advanced cases to reduce inflammation and pocket depths. It is generally not considered a definitive procedure in moderately advanced to advanced periodontal disease.

Reasons for scaling and root planing

  • Disease prevention – The oral bacteria which cause periodontal infections can travel via the blood stream to other parts of the body.  Research has shown that lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal bacteria.  SRP remove bacteria and may help prevent periodontal disease from progressing, thus preventing the bacteria from traveling to other parts of the body.
  • Tooth protection – When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, there is a greater risk of periodontal disease.  As pockets deepen, they tend to house more colonies of dangerous bacteria.  Eventually, a chronic inflammatory response by the body begins to destroy gingival and bone tissue which may lead to tooth loss.  Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the developed world.
  • Esthetic effects – As an added bonus, the red and swollen gum tissue will return to normal color and contours. The bleeding that you might experience when brushing will be eliminated.
  • Better breath – One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis (bad breath).  Food particles and bacteria can cause a persistent bad odor in the oral cavity which is alleviated with cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing.