Periodontal (around the tooth) or gum diseases are bacterial infections that destroy the fibers and bone that hold your teeth in place in your mouth. These infections in turn cause various diseases which can lead to you losing one or several teeth. Dental plaque which forms into calculus (more commonly known as tartar) is the primary cause of gum disease.
Regular brushing and flossing of your teeth, tooth picking and using mouth wash as well as regular dental visits will help you prevent most periodontal conditions. Statistically, from the age of 35, adults lose more teeth to gum diseases than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some point in their life.
As stated, periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film which carries bacteria which sticks to your teeth at the gum line and can eventually cause gum infection. If not carefully removed by regular brushing and flossing of your teeth, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is the most common and routine form of treatment for periodontal disease. Scaling is simply the act of removing calculus (hardened plaque) and plaque that attached to the surface of your teeth. This especially targets the area below your gum line, i.e. along the root.
As plaque is more likely to stick to rough surfaces, the surface of the root is smoothed out in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining calculus and smoothes irregular areas of the root surface.
There are a number of methods of scaling and root planing. These are:
Hand – The removal of plaque and calculus with hand instruments. This can also be performed on anyone without periodontal disease.