As serious as periodontal disease can be, most adults don’t think much about the health of their gums. People tend to associate oral health with exams, routine cleanings, fillings, crowns and root canals. Even dentures, the possible end result of periodontal disease, typically generate more curiosity than the health and integrity of the gum line.

Experienced San Jose, Los Gatos and Campbell dentist Dr. Ashwini Bhave knows how important gum health is to your ability to maintain a healthy mouth with a full set of teeth far into the future. One of the most effective ways to preserve healthy gums and reverse periodontal damage is a technique known as scaling and root planing.

Risks and Warning Signs

Excess plaque buildup under the gum line causes gingivitis. With this condition, gum pockets increase in volume, eventually separating the gum from the bone and creating a haven for bacteria. The bacteria eat away at the root and the bone which secures it. At some point, you may lose the affected tooth as it becomes unmoored from your jaw.

Scaling and root planing allows your dentist to reverse this damage by cleaning out the gum pockets and injecting an antibiotic solution to suppress future bacterial growth. Plaque trapped in the pockets around your teeth cannot be eliminated by regular brushing and flossing. In general, any gum pocket deeper than 3 millimeters is a warning sign that you are developing periodontal disease and that scaling and root planing are needed.

Treated in its early stages, periodontal disease can be reversed and a healthy gum line can be restored. When continual plaque buildup deepens gum pockets and begins to damage bone and teeth, more serious periodontal interventions will be necessary, such as flap surgery or grafts of bone or soft tissue to rebuild the bone and strengthen the root.

The Procedure

Scaling and root planing usually requires several visits, as one or two mouth quadrants are meticulously cleaned during an appointment. You will receive a local anesthetic and, depending on patient preference, an insert that will comfortably keep your mouth open during the procedure.

The scaling aspect of the technique involves removing hardened plaque, known as tartar, that has formed around the root and may have already compromised the stability of the root-bone connection. Root planing is a process by which the surface of the root is made smoother, which makes it easier for your gums to reattach to the teeth.

To learn more about the benefits of scaling and root planing, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bhave at her San Jose office by calling or emailing Bay Area Dental Specialists today.