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Scaling and root planing – Need | Procedure | Care | Costs

It is not enough to only brush or floss daily; it is vital to have regular check-ups and a professional cleaning to maintain good dental health. However, when you show symptoms of gum disease, you need another type of cleaning called scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) is a procedure that involves scaling or removing the debris of dental plaque.  It is also referred to as conventional periodontal therapy, deep cleaning, or non-surgical periodontal therapy. 

Gum disease is one of the significant fears to the overall health, notably dental. Majority of adults over 30 years and older have some form of gum disease or tooth decay. Deep cleaning is a procedure suggested for treatments or to halt the progression of gum diseases. 

What is scaling and root planing (deep cleaning)?

Deep cleaning is a specific procedure executed by your hygienist.  Deep Cleaning or Scaling is a non-surgical procedure of removing or scraping the tartar or plaque which is below and above the gum line.  The dental hygienist checks and treats if need be any periodontal disease.  Deep Cleaning usually mistook as Prophylaxis or regular teeth cleaning is more detailed and methodical. It helps in getting rid of the bacteria and tartar that leads to gum disease. 

In general, deep cleaning takes place in two sessions:

  1. First, the dentist is required to take away all the plaque and tartar and ensure all is scraped or removed. It is the tartar, which is a plaque that has gone hard and formed either or both above and below the gum line. 
  2. The next is root planning. When the gums have lost its pockets that has been recently cleaned and created, and it begins to adhere to the teeth again.  Here you may have to visit your dentist several sessions, and the sittings could be very uncomfortable. To avoid discomfort, the dentist may use an anesthetic to make it as easy as possible.  

The fact is that your dentist will not recommend deep Cleaning if it is not necessary and if you are not at risk of gum or bone disease or in danger of losing any teeth.  A periodontal examination will be used to check how deep the pockets are if your periodontal pockets are over the acceptable 3mm.

When do you need Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning)?

Deep cleaning, usually is recommended for individuals suffering from gingivitis.  Gingivitis is a form of gum disease but on the milder side.  When one has to take care of periodontal disease, a more severe gum infection or inflammation of the upper or lower gums, then the dentist or hygienist recommends a deep cleaning.   Also, when the depth of the space between the gums and teeth exceeds the 3 mm normal level, then the dentist will recommend periodontal treatment. The treatment starts with assessing the plaque buildup on the gum lines and also the root area.  Every adult is recommended to take a periodontal assessment at least once a year to decide and see if periodontal treatment or Deep cleaning is necessary.  Measuring pocket depth is a crucial part of a comprehensive dental evaluation. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that if the pockets are more than 5 millimeters, then deep cleaning and scaling and root planing with the dental hygienist is to be considered.

When periodontal pockets formed, and bacteria and pollutants build up in them know as toxins, causing swelling and infection if it lingers to go untreated, the situation can become more severe and may result to tooth loss, 

Basically, there are two major forms of periodontal disease, they are periodontitis and gingivitis.  Gingivitis if not treated on time will develop into advanced stage and this is dangerous and destructive called periodontitis. At this crucial stage, when there is loss of gum and bone around the teeth. Immediate attention would be required. 

The American Academy of Periodontology advises that older patients must be evaluated for any chronic inflammation and if there is a family history of periodontal problems or tooth loss will indicate if you are at risk.  For advanced Peridontitis diseases, studies have shown some gender influence, males are at greater risk than females.  Smokers, diabetic patients, patients who have a history of heart problems, severe obesity, and poor oral hygiene are a high risk of periodontitis and would need immediate attention of a dentist.

How are scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) Done? Is it painful?

Deep cleaning or scaling, also known as root planing involves scraping tartar and plaque from the external section of the teeth.  The dental hygienist uses an ultrasonic scaling instrument, powered by electricity and a high-frequency vibrating motion that removes the plaque and tartar off. The instrument also releases water that helps loosen the debris around the teeth and the pockets.  Hand tools are also used to remove the residual deposits on the tooth. The procedure takes a minimum of two visits and a follow-up visit if necessary. 

Watch the video tartar and plaque is removed using ultrasonic instruments and hand scaling instruments:

Deep cleaning does not cause much discomfort or pain.  It is a non-invasive procedure, and all depend on the severity of the plaque.  All depends on the build-up.  If the pockets are not deep, then little or no pain will be felt, but if they are deeper pockets of build-up, then there would be a little bleeding and pain.  Topical numbing solution is applied to the gums and the surrounding to alleviate discomfort and pain.  If the case is severe, then anesthesia is intravenously administered. 

What care is needed after scaling and root planing (deep cleaning)?

One should maintain oral hygiene like brushing, and mouth rinse to be used regularly.  It is likely to take a few weeks for the gums to come back to their normal health.  The dentist usually recommends an antibacterial mouthwash. Apart from antimicrobial mouth wash/rinse; antiseptic chips, enzyme suppressants, antibiotic gels, and microspheres, along with oral drugs, are recommended. 

To completely reverse the periodontal disease, deep cleaning/scaling for three months is not enough.  Future treatment plans and the periodontist will advise if surgery is required.  There is no guarantee that medications can replace surgical treatment.  It all depends on the intensity of the gum disease. 

Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) Cost

Depending on the location and the insurance, deep cleaning can cost approximately $75 to $300.  The cost may also vary as per age and insurance coverage.

Surgical pocket reductions procedure is typically a bit expensive if not insured and can cost between $1000 and $3000.

Insurance provides maximum coverage for one or two cleanings per year. If more cleanings are recommended and are necessary by the dentist, those additional cleanings may not be covered.  You got to find out from the insurance company or Medicare in advance.

If the cleaning consists of an examination or X-rays, the total cost can be higher; again, it depends on the insurance coverage.  

It is crucial to maintain and keep the oral health done on time.  Therefore, dental check-ups and advice from your dentist are beneficial.  Daily brushing and flossing and avoiding smoking are some steps to keep away from gum disease.  If your dentist recommends scaling or deep cleaning, nothing to worry, the procedure is to prevent gum problems from progressing further. Relax and let your dentist take care of your teeth and gums.  

During the initial visit at our San Francisco office, Dr. Mohamed Ali will thoroughly examine your mouth for any signs of gum disease and will present different options and also advise you on the best option, suited for your treatment. The billing experts will check your insurance benefits and offer a complete treatment plan with the financial arrangements. We accept all major dental and medical PPO insurance plans. We also have an in-office Plan for Health for those who don’t have insurance. Additionally, we have partnered with various financial institutions like Care Credit, The Lending Club, Healthcare Finance Solution, to make your deep cleaning treatment extremely affordable and pleasant. We will be happy to answer all your questions. So just sit, relax, and get your dental care. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 415.391.7751.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. rhea

    Thank You for sharing such a nice and informative blog and your knowledge with us. You should resume normal oral care procedures after your teeth scaling and root planing. This includes brushing your teeth at least two times a day and flossing regularly. You should also eat a healthy, balanced diet and see your dentist for regular cleanings to prevent the condition from returning.

  2. Dr. Rusznak

    Scaling and root planning is frequently referred to as ‘deep cleaning’ which is the treatment of choice for an infectious disease called periodontal disease. If you have this kind of disease, I recommend undergoing deep cleaning instead of regular teeth cleaning.

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