Scaling and Root Planing Risks

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Are you worried about potential scaling and root planing risks?

Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, but luckily this condition is entirely preventable with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups. The best way to stay ahead of periodontal disease is to have scaling and root planing procedures done by professionals.

But, are there any risks involved, and what is this procedure all about?

If you want to know more about deep teeth cleaning, keep on reading, as we have all the details and potential risks involved.

What Is Dental Scaling and Root Planing?

Dental scaling and root planing is a nonsurgical treatment where the dentist removes plaque and harmful bacteria from your teeth. While dental hygiene is the essential step in preventing chronic gum disease, some patients need additional help and deep teeth cleaning.

Dental deep cleaning is performed under local anesthetic, and it’s one of the first treatments your dentist will recommend to treat gum disease.

While gum disease is expected, it’s also one of the main reasons many patients have loose teeth and bone loss. So, prevention is the key to a healthy and beautiful smile.

Effects of Periodontal Disease or Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontitis is common, with almost half of adults over the age of 30 having the issue.

Chronic periodontitis means the plaque has built upon the surface of the teeth and under the gum line. The buildup causes bacteria to form and the gum tissue to recede, creating large pockets that compromise the jaw and teeth.

If left untreated, gum disease can cause bleeding, discomfort, swollen gums, and even severe infection with tooth loss. This is why it’s crucial to remove plaque with proper brushing and flossing and with regular deep cleaning with your general dentistry.

In addition, it’s recently been proven in medical studies that untreated infection of the gums can lead to systemic inflammation in the body. This inflammation, on the other hand, is known to increase your chances of developing other health problems like rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, dementia, or stroke.

Root Planing Procedure

While the root planing procedure might sound invasive and complicated, it’s done fast and under local anesthesia. It’s completely painless and easy to achieve with manual or ultrasonic devices.

Your dentist will assess the current state of your teeth and gums in the first dental visit and recommend the best plan for tooth scaling and root planing.

The procedure to make your mouth healthy again will involve:

Local Anesthetic Application

Scale and root planing are always done with local anesthesia applied beforehand to ensure a painless experience and complete deep cleaning. In case a patient has immune system problems or heart disease, the dentist might prescribe antibiotics before and after the treatment to reduce the chances of infection.

Deep Cleaning Teeth Surface

Once the anesthesia is effective, your dentist immediately starts deep cleaning with handheld instruments or ultrasonic instruments.

By removing plaque on the tooth’s root and smoothing the surface of your teeth, the dentist will reduce the bacteria buildup, and as a result, your gums reattach to the surface once again.

Depending on the severity of gum disease, you might have more than one appointment to heal your gum tissue completely. Keep in mind that both handheld and ultrasonic instruments are effective, but the ultrasonic one is up to 50% faster.

Healing Process

Once the scaling and root planing procedure is done, you have to allow your gums to heal. This might include prescription mouthwash and a balanced diet until your teeth and gums are sensitive.

Scaling and Root Planing Risks

Now that we are familiar with the entire scaling and root planing, you might be wondering about possible complications. Luckily, this treatment is very efficient, and most patients don’t have any health problems afterward, but there are a few risks you need to know about, such as:

  1. SwellingScaling and root planing are done under the gum line; thus, you can expect your gums to be swollen and tender right after the procedure. While this is entirely normal, you can ask your dentist about the best ways to reduce the swelling.
  2. InfectionConsidering bacteria is introduced to your bloodstream, you might get an infection, which is usually prevented with prescribed mouthwash and antibiotics.Just like any other procedure, patients have an adverse reaction to medications, so it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist before teeth scaling.
  3. PainMost patients experience pain and discomfort right after the root planing procedure. This symptom is expected considering the dentist has to remove plaque from pockets that are not reachable with traditional instruments or brushes.Scale and root planing go under the line of your gums, so it’s expected to feel sore for a few days.This discomfort can be alleviated with mild pain killers you can get over the counter or with a prescription from your doctor.
  4. BleedingDepending on the severity of the gum disease, your dentist might have to go deeper and move your gums more. This can cause slight bleeding of the gum tissue and general discomfort.However, this condition usually passes fast, and your gums heal within days.
  5. SensitivityLike any other plaque removal, scaling, and root planing will cause sensitivity in your teeth and gums. It’s a good idea to avoid cold foods and ensure proper oral health to allow your mouth to heal.The sensitivity also lasts for a few days, and you can expect your teeth to get back to normal in no time.


How Effective is Scaling and Root Planing?

Once the calculus buildup from the teeth and the root is removed, most patients will have significant improvement in the course of the gum disease. Depending on other factors like smoking, diabetes, and damaged teeth, some patients will have less effective scaling and root planing than others.

How Often Should You Do Scaling and Root Planing?

Depending on your general oral health and the condition of your teeth, you might have just one or two deep cleaning sessions each year.

In case your dentist decides you need more treatment, you might have to adjust your schedule and have the treatment done more frequently.

Who Needs Scaling and Root Planing?

Root planing and scaling are recommended for people who have severe plaque buildup in places that are not reached with regular brushing and cleaning. Considering that the problem is with the area that is under the gums, patients have to have the treatment done under anesthesia and by a professional.

Final Thoughts

Scaling and root planing is by far the best, fastest, and easiest way to get your oral health under control and ensure healthy teeth and strong jaws.

Gum disease is common and one of the leading causes of tooth loss and jaw bone deterioration. Luckily, this is an entirely preventable issue you can resolve with regular deep cleaning and dental scaling treatment.

Scaling and root planing have a few risks involved, with most of them being mild pain and rare complications. Considering that the consequences of gum disease that is not treated are far worse, you should schedule an appointment right now and get your teeth deep cleaned.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.