Perhaps you’ve been neglecting a good oral health routine. Or, you’ve done your best, but you’ve developed plaque and tartar buildup. A regular routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing is an important part of regular plaque removal for everyone. But if you have risk factors that have caused a buildup of plaque on your teeth and gums to harden into tartar, your dentist or dental hygienist may suggest scaling or root planing your teeth to remove the buildup. If left untreated, severe tartar buildup along and under the gum line can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, which may increase the risk of gum disease.
Scaling and root planing are common nonsurgical techniques that may prevent the need for more serious procedures, such as periodontal surgery or a root canal.
Here’s what to expect if your dentist or dental hygienist recommends these techniques:
- You won’t feel it. You’ll receive a local anesthetic to numb the area.
- Scaling: Your dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque and tartar from the areas both above and below the gum line.
- Root Planing: Your dentist or dental hygienist uses special tools to smooth rough spots on the tooth roots. This process not only removes bacteria and helps reduce plaque buildup, but it provides a smooth surface for gums to reattach to the teeth.
After a scaling and root planing procedure, be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions and maintain an oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. If your gums are sensitive after the procedure, try a spongy floss to help prevent painful flossing.