Tooth scaling and root planing (SRP) also called deep cleaning is a non surgical technique to treating periodontal disease (advanced form of gum disease). It includes scaling which aimed at removing accumulated dental plaque and tartar above and below the gum line and root planing for smoothing the tooth root where bacteria meet.
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The procedure can take more than one visit and it can involve being injected, local anesthetic to numb the affected area and make the procedure painless.
Is Tooth Scaling and Root Planing Worth It?
30 minutes after eating, a layer of bacteria also called plaque starts to form on our teeth which can be easily removed by brushing and flossing. If teeth and gums left un-cleaned even among kids, accumulated plaque harden to form tartar also called calculus that is hard to remove using home techniques.
Tartar can only be removed by dentist. If calculus left un-treated, starts to penetrate deep in the gums causing swelling and bleeding, an early stage to gum disease, also called gingivitis. Gingivitis can be reversed following good dental oral hygiene, even through oil pulling. Also regular visit to your dentist, every six month, can help spot this early form of gum disease and treat it in advance through normal professional deep cleaning and medications.
However, if Gingivitis left untreated, it advanced into periodontitis causing damage to the supporting teeth bone, gum recession, tooth loss and bad breath. This is a result of bacteria going dip below the gum line.
Periodontitis cannot be reversed, it can only be stopped from proceeding further through dentistry procedures such as scaling and root planning and, or gum graft surgery. This is done to improve your overall dental health and slow down the disease from proceeding further, hence justifies the need for undertaking deep cleaning.
While normal dentist routines are done to stop periodontal disease from occurring, tooth scaling and root planning is done to treat it.
What Is Involved In Deep Cleaning Teeth?
On the appointment day for deep cleaning your dentist, hygienist or Periodintist will:
- Sometimes first numb the affected area using local anesthetic or gell, sometimes not.
- Use scaling tools (curettes), or ultrasonic scaling device, or both to scrap build up dental plaque and tartar above and below gum line
- Use scaller to smooth the tooth root
- Give you antibiotic prescription, advice and scheduled checkups
How Much Does Scaling And Root Planing Cost?
Scaling and root planing may cost between $400 and $4000 for your whole mouth depending on severity and extent of periodontal disease, your location and who is treating you: your dentist, or a gum doctor or both, technology used, frequency of treatments, and maintenance cost. This price range also covers initial examination and x-ray cost in additional to other extra cost such as pain management cost. You can save some money by securing treatment with dental school, through dental plans or by doing it overseas such as in Thailand, or Mexico.
Is Scaling And Root Planing Covered By Insurance?
Since periodontal disease is considered as ‘medically necessary’ condition, dental insurance may cover 50 to 80% of the deep cleaning cost. However this depends on your plan. Also keep in mind that most insurance plans has a yearly limit of 1000 to $1500 and depending on severity of your gum disease, this can only be a fraction of the total cost or it may be what you real need to get you treated. You will have 4 treatment sessions with your doctor, if you can secure 2 sessions on December and another 2 on January; will help get money of the ending year and next year from your insurer. Cross check this first with your insurer and your dentist to know how much will it cost and how much you will get from the insurer before starting the treatment.
After treatment, you will have scheduled checkups with your hygienist to assess and monitor the healing process. Routine cleanings will also be offered.
Can You Get Rid Of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal can be stopped from progressing further using deep cleaning technique discussed above and or gum graft surgery. However, it cannot be cured, meaning that it can re-occur in case you return to the normal life style that led to getting it.
It is a treatable disease; you just need to follow instructions given by your dentist including observing good oral hygiene after treatment: brushing twice daily, flossing at least once a day, using mouthwash and attending frequent checkups.
How Long Does It Take To Treat Periodontal Disease?
It takes weeks to treat periodontal disease. You first have the initial consultation, examinational and plan followed by 4 deep cleaning sessions and follow up meetings. The meetings aim at assessing the healing progress and offer more cleaning. If after deep cleaning, your gums still show signs of bacteria especially in deep pockets, you will be referred to the periodontist to undertake gum graft surgery.
Gum graft surgery is a follow up procedure for more chronic periodontal cases aiming at completely removing tartar left behind by root planning and scaling, from deeper pockets and tricky roots.
Dr. Tom Bell has a PhD in Medical Anthropology. He has a keen interest in oral health topics and is the founder of dentalrave. He has been an oral health researcher and electric toothbrush enthusiast for over 10 years. When not talking about dental hygiene and gadgets, Tom likes spending time outdoors hiking.