The initial therapy for gum disease is called scaling and root planing. This is a non-surgical procedure performed by a licensed dental hygienist who has been periodontally trained to remove tartar below the gum line, clean and smooth the root surface, and allow the healing process to begin. It may involve 2 to 5 appointments. Novocain is used to ensure your comfort since the tissues are delicate and may be tender. Scaling scrapes off the plaque and tartar and then, root planing smoothes the root. A smooth clean healthy root surface allows the gums to reattach to the teeth. Since root planing is a procedure that removes the irritants, much like removing a splinter from an infected finger, patients generally experience little discomfort afterwards and the gums actually feel better.
There are limitations to what scaling and root planing can accomplish. Research has shown that the deeper the pocket the less effective we are at removing the plaque and calculus. Also, back teeth are more difficult to reach and are therefore more difficult to effectively clean and detoxify. There will always be instances where additional therapy is needed in order to remove the irritants and correct damage to gum and bone. This may include either Perioscope or surgical procedures.
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Effective preventive plaque control techniques will be taught and reviewed at root planing appointments. What you do on a daily basis is the most important part of preventing the recurrence of gum disease, so plaque control is emphasized at each appointment.