If you have gum disease, then there’s no doubt that your dentist or periodontist has told you that it can become a serious problem if it’s not addressed. Gums can recede to the point where the roots of the teeth are exposed to damaging bacteria. Many people with gum disease will need to have serious deep cleaning and, possibly, root planing and scaling.
Why your dentist may suggest root planing
When gum disease is severe, it causes the gum to pull away from the root of the teeth and leave large “pockets” that contain tooth-damaging bacteria. This bacterium continues to damage the teeth and may result in the need for major procedures in the future or the loss of teeth. Planing and scaling help reduce or eliminate the amount of bacteria. One procedure is usually enough to significantly reduce the problem of deteriorating and receding gums.
Traditional root planing and scaling
During traditional root planing and scaling, the dentist or periodontist will numb the area using a topical anesthetic. Then the dentist will use scraping tools similar to those used in normal teeth cleaning to clean the roots of the teeth deep inside the pockets. Some dentists use an ultrasonic scaling tool to help reduce irritation. Antibiotics are placed in the pockets to promote healing and reduce infection. Patients often recover in a few days to a week.
Root planing and scaling using lasers
Instead of using traditional tools that scrape the teeth and pull at gums, lasers focus just on the area being treated. Lasers are known for being very precise and can be targeted directly at the bacteria. They have an instant cauterization effect, sealing off blood vessels before they can bleed. This means there is less risk of bleeding, swelling, and overall irritation. The procedure is usually has less recovery time. Lasers can be a better choice for people with blood disorders and reduces the risk of gum recession from the procedure.
While lasers have many benefits, they may not be for everyone. If your dentist or periodontist offers both procedures, they will explain the pros and cons of each of them. Both procedures can be equally effective at helping with gum disease, but it’s the side benefits that are the main differences. For people who need a short recovery time or have other health concerns, laser root scaling and planing may be a good choice.