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Root Planing

Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash are all important parts of the oral hygiene routine. While these techniques are very useful for removing plaque from the surfaces of the mouth, plaque and the germs that call it home don’t stop at the gum line. Plaque forms on the surfaces of the teeth all the time, and that means the roots too. If plaque goes unremoved, it can harden and turn dark brown or yellow. When this occurs, it is referred to as tartar or calculus.

A regular cleaning is commonly kept to the crowns of the teeth and the area just beneath the gum line, to remove plaque and brighten the visible surfaces of the teeth. This is the procedure most people refer to when they talk about going in for a checkup, in addition to looking for cavities and evidence of oral health problems. In some cases, where the plaque infiltrates the gum line, a more aggressive cleaning strategy may be required to get beneath the gums and clear out the problem before it has a chance to become a problem in the first place. This is another reason why you shouldn’t go more than six months without a cleaning.

To remove plaque buildup beneath the gum line and prevent the formation of tartar and the onset of periodontal disease, two techniques are used in conjunction: root planing and subgingival scaling. Root planing is the part of a more aggressive clinical cleaning where the plaque has already been removed with subgingival scaling and the root of the tooth is smoothed out or “planed.” This results in a smoother surface which makes it more difficult for plaque and bacteria to find a foothold. When the roots are smoother and more polished, the odds of periodontal disease secondary to plaque buildup and bacterial colonization are greatly reduced.

While this procedure may sound like the traditional, wince-inducing “trip to the dentist,” it is not a procedure that should be delayed if needed. Bacteria can and do proliferate in plaque, making you more susceptible to periodontal disease even if your oral hygiene regimen is otherwise immaculate. By addressing this issue early, your mouth will stay healthier and your risk of oral disease will drop commensurately. At Anthem Periodontics, our staff brings years of experience with thousands of these procedures, meaning you can rest assured you’re going to get the best possible care and treatment with as little discomfort as possible.


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