Root Scaling & Planing
Root scaling and planing is considered by periodontal experts to be a non-surgical technique, although that doesn't mean it requires no anesthetic or that it might not accompany other techniques, like gum grafting, that are surgical in nature.
Scaling and planing is one of the most affordable and least invasive of available gum disease treatments and has been for decades. It consists of a thorough cleansing of the root surfaces of teeth (often already exposed by gum disease and gum recession) to kill off harmful bacteria and remove built-up plaque and tartar deposits.
The removal of bacteria and plaque is called "scaling" because a scalpel scales, or scrapes, this undesirable material off of your teeth. The other half of the procedure, "planing," is the smoothing out of the surface of your tooth roots so that it will be much more difficult for bacteria to cling to them and create deep bacterial pockets.
Periodontists generally recommend scaling and planing after periodontal (bacteria) pockets in your gums have reached to depth of 4 millimeters or more. A local anesthetic is typically used, and the procedure sometimes takes more than one dental appointment to complete.
After root scaling and planing, some tenderness and swelling of the gums may occur. But it will subside, and many people need no further treatment but only need maintenance therapy to ensure they retain the results.
Tray Delivery Systems
Another non-surgical, non-invasive way to treat gum disease is through a "tray delivery system." These consist of custom fit trays made to be worn over the gums at home, which are very similar to mouth guards.
Antimicrobials and other medications may be prescribed to be included in the tray so that they can gradually and continually treat your gums over a period of time. These tray systems are very similar to fluoride trays, which for years have been used to help prevent tooth decay.
The value of tray deliver systems is not only that they apply medicine to your gums and teeth but that they are able to reach spots that regular brushing/flossing wouldn't.
The trays are made to perfectly fit each patient's mouth and are comfortable to wear throughout the day, even while engaged in activities like walking the dog or taking a shower. But you don't have to wear them 24/7 either - you periodontist will instruct you on the recommended number of hours per day.
Finally, note that tray delivery systems are often prescribed for two opposite reasons: to help prevent the need for root scaling and planing or to act as an adjunct therapy following scaling and planing.
If you have periodontal disease or fear you may be developing it, don't wait for the disease to worsen. Contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik today in Ormond Beach, FL, and he can help determine if root scaling & planing, a tray delivery system, or another periodontal treatment is right for you.