Root Planing – What Is It?

When gum disease is left untreated, you may need this treatment to save your teeth.

endodontist in BedfordAs we have mentioned previously, some people appear to think that tooth decay is the only reason why you might lose a tooth. Whilst this can certainly happen if decay isn’t treated early enough, there is another factor which plays a big role in a large number of lost teeth, and that is gum disease.

Gum disease is progressive and if treated early enough, can be reversed and/or managed in a relatively straightforward manner. When it is left to advance though, it starts to not only affect the gums but also the underlying bone structure. As this plays a key role in teeth stabilisation, you can see that as bone degrades, the teeth can become loose and may eventually fall out.

Detecting gum disease

Seeing a dental hygienist at The Dental Centre Bedford on a regular six monthly basis is the best way to help keep your gums healthy and to treat any gum disease at an early stage. The dentist may also recommend that you see one too if they detect a build up of tartar, a hardened form of bacteria and mineral deposits on your teeth.

Providing that any problems are noticed early, most tartar can be removed using a non invasive treatment called a ‘scale and polish’. This, combined with following any advice given to you by the hygienist, should enable you to keep your gums healthy.

The trouble arises where early stage gum disease (gingivitis) has advanced and becomes periodontitis, where the roots of the teeth and supporting bone structure are affected. At this stage, a scale and polish will not be as effective and a more extensive treatment will likely be necessary.

Having a ‘deep clean’ procedure

Although a scale and polish will clean the teeth and around the gum-line, where the problem has travelled further down, beneath the gums, the main option available to save the tooth is to have a ‘deep clean’, or root planing as it is sometimes called. This is a more invasive and complex procedure and has to be carried out by a suitably qualified dental professional and not by the hygienist.

A deep clean allows the dentist to clean below the gum-line including the roots of the tooth and the surrounding bone and is usually done using a local anaesthetic.

The procedure is carried out in two parts and you may need a few visits to complete the treatment fully. The first part of the procedure is the ‘scaling’. This is where the dentist will remove the tartar and bacteria that has become attached to the root of the tooth and surrounding bone. The second part, the ‘planing’, smooths out the rough surfaces which reduces the risk of bacteria reattaching and also allows the bone and tooth root to bond more effectively.

Understandably, following this treatment, your gums may be sore and may even be inflamed or bleed a little. Your dentist will offer aftercare advice which should be followed, both for better healing but also for your own comfort.

With this treatment, there is a good chance that your teeth will recover and become stable again. There are no guarantees however, and our Bedford patients are advised to do all that they can to prevent the problem from reaching the stage where this treatment is necessary.

Ongoing gum health

Whether you have had your teeth root planed or are simply concerned with keeping your gums healthy, there are a number of things that you should note if you want to keep them that way.

Don’t smoke – Smoking irritates the gums and increases the risk of infections. A dry mouth can also occur and is a factor in increasing the number of potentially harmful bacteria in the mouth. The same can be said for excessive drinking, so try to keep this in moderation.

Brush your teeth correctly – It isn’t just the flat surfaces of your teeth that been brushing. Make sure to angle the bristles so that they reach below the gum-line and clean out any food debris and bacteria.

Use floss – You might find it tricky at first but you will soon master it. Flossing is still one of the most effective ways of cleaning in the spaces between your teeth.

See the hygienist – Even if you see a dentist regularly, you should still see the hygienist at The Dental Centre Bedford. This should be an essential part of your overall oral health regime.

A deep clean can save your teeth if gum disease becomes a major problem but it is much better to keep your teeth and gums in good health if at all possible. To make an appointment to see either the dentist or hygienist at our friendly Bedford dental practice, please call us today on 01234 819868.