Scaling/Root Planing

What is scaling and root planing therapy?

Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a non-surgical periodontal therapy to remove bacterial plaque and calculus from around teeth and below the gum line.  This type of therapy is prescribed for patients who have chronic inflammation and infection in their gums and bone around the teeth.  This chronic inflammation and infection causes destruction of the gum tissue and the bone that holds the teeth in the jaw– which can lead to tooth loss.  This treatment is more involved than prophylaxis or a “teeth cleaning” which treats disease at or above the gum line. 

How do I know if I am a candidate for SRP therapy?

We measure the bone around your teeth for bone destruction and check for areas of bleeding and purulence to help determine if you need SRP.  If you show the clinical symptoms of inflammation, active infection, and bone loss, we will also test your saliva (see OralDNA Labs®) to determine the specific bacteria that are causing your periodontal disease. It is similar to having a culture of infection at your physician’s office.  The culture is taken to determine which bacteria are present in the infection so the appropriate antibiotic can be prescribed. If antibiotics, whether systemic or topical, are recommended– they are taken in conjunction with mechanical disinfection of your mouth through SRP.  

What are the benefits of scaling and root planing?

SRP treatment promotes healing of the inflammation and infection that causes gum and bone destruction.  Some patients need one treatment session, while others need several. It depends on the severity of the periodontal infection and inflammation as to how many sessions you will need.

Generally, the area of your mouth to be treated is anesthetized (numbed) for your comfort.  Appointments are an hour in length and spaced 2 weeks apart for maximum clinical effectiveness.  Your hygienist will treat the worst areas first, then retreat those areas as new areas are treated at subsequent appointments.  Once your particular therapy is complete, your hygienist will see you in 6 weeks to follow up on your healing.  This is when we will take a second saliva test to confirm that the bacteria causing your periodontal infection has been significantly reduced or eliminated.  Most likely you will need to see your hygienist 3-4 times a year to maintain your periodontal health.  

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