Root Planing 1

Root Planing

It’s not difficult to surmise that the primary reason that dentists recommend we brush our teeth twice a day, floss our teeth once a day and visit the dentist for a full examination and dental cleaning twice a year is in order to protect against the infections and illnesses that can result from the buildup of bacteria, food particles and other things in the mouth. Unfortunately, while aggressive oral hygiene habits can often prevent these infections and illnesses from occurring, it can still happen that an individual develops gum disease. This condition can cause an inflammation of the soft gum tissues of the mouth which results in a separation of the gums from the root surface of the teeth. This separation creates what is referred to as a periodontal pocket–a very small space in which bacteria and infection can continue to accumulate and grow. Needless to say, this condition is both highly uncomfortable as well as highly dangerous to the health of the individual’s teeth and mouth, and the reason why root planing is sometimes a necessary dental treatment.

The Process of Root Planing

Simply put, root planing is the procedure by which a dentist will carefully clean the root surfaces of teeth in order to remove the bacteria, infection, plaque and calculus that have accumulated there and that contribute to gum disease. This helps inflamed gum tissue to heal and recover, restoring the individual’s oral health. The exact process of root planing includes:

  • Full dental examination. The dentist will thoroughly examine the individual’s mouth, using a periodontal probe as needed to detect periodontal pockets and their depth in order to determine the extent of gum disease. It is also very likely that they will take x-rays in order to better see and diagnose the problem.
  • Administration of local anesthetic. In order to ensure that the root planing procedure is as comfortable as possible, the dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area that will be treated.
  • Root planing cleaning. Using a specialized dental instrument such as a curette or ultrasonic cleaner, the dentist will thoroughly remove all the bacteria, infection, plaque and calculus that is found on the root of the tooth as well as in the periodontal pocket. In some cases, the individual’s gum disease issues are so extensive that they require gum flap surgery for root planing. This means that the gums are actually surgically removed from the teeth, completely exposing the root surface for cleaning. The dentist should be able to determine whether this is necessary during the examination stage of the process.

Due to the thorough, deep cleaning that occurs during root planing, it is not unusual for the individual to experience mild discomfort after the treatment has concluded and the local anesthetic has worn off. There may even be some very mild gum bleeding for a few days following treatment. Fortunately, proper oral hygiene habits and patience will allow these things to subside and be replaced by healthy, comfortable gums and teeth. Due to the fact that root planing is necessary when gum disease has originated from bacteria, plaque and calculus in the mouth, your dentist will work hard to help you establish proper oral hygiene habits in order to protect against a future reoccurrence. They may also provide some helpful advice on basic dietary habits that can contribute to healthy teeth, gums and mouth, and which habits–like smoking–should be completely avoided.

Root planing is a very valuable treatment that can help to protect the health of teeth and gums that are being adversely affected by infection and bacteria. However, it is easy to understand how the better, and more comfortable, choice is to aggressively perform the preventative care necessary to avoid this treatment. Feel free to speak with your dentist about any questions or concerns you have regarding your oral health, so that you can work together to help establish and maintain the absolute best oral health possible.


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