Scaling and Root Planing

Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing (CDT Code D4341) is considered to be the mother of all dental cleanings. Perhaps life has kept you away from the dental office for a year or more. Despite what some dentists and dental hygienists might believe, life is constantly happening for every human being. We relocate to new cities, find new jobs, or change our dental plans. We may even get married or go to work for a new employer. Some employers offer patients a very basic plan at first, and then the coverage becomes much more generous after year two. When the circumstances of our lives change, we don’t immediately think of our dental or periodontal maintenance as the first priority.

When one experiences a down-cycle in the roller coaster of life, periodontal disease can seize the stressful opportunity to gain a foothold. Periodontal disease is relentless. It never takes a holiday. If the circumstances of our lives prevent us from seeing our hygienist for our routine maintenance care, the soft plaque under our gums can become hard like a rock. It’s a lot like a barnacle attached to the hull of a ship below the waterline. When the barnacles on the hull become too heavy, it negatively affects the performance of the ship. The solution is to put the boat into “dry dock.” This is where specially trained technicians can get a good look at the problem and remove everything that can’t be seen below the water line. Consider scaling and root planing to be dry dock for your dental foundation.

If, for whatever reason, you’ve experienced a build-up of ugly barnacles below the gum line, then your gums are infected as a result. The performance of your foundation is at-risk. Once diagnosed, your dentist and hygienist can feel the build-up, but cannot see it, just like the hull of a boat below the water line. Scaling and root planing is the world’s best cleaning and the most advanced non-surgical therapy available today. In severe instances, the use of locally delivered antibiotics may be considered.

This non-surgical therapy is performed by a registered dental hygienist or dentist, usually over 2 to 4 appointments. Local anesthesia is always used. This ensures the patient’s profound comfort and allows the hygienist to perform their very best work. The periodontal tissues take about a month to heal, sometimes a bit longer depending on the seriousness of the infection.

After the periodontal tissues have fully healed, Dr. Korn (regardless of which dental office the scaling and root planing was performed in) will reevaluate the health of your tooth foundation to determine if health has broken out, or if residual infection remains. In the event that residual infection is still present, other treatment, including surgical intervention may be considered. Remember, no treatment will ever be performed unless it makes complete sense to the patient, and takes into account their goals for their future dental health.

Every patient who has had a periodontal disease that resulted in the requirement for scaling and root planing has a demonstrated susceptibility to the disease. Periodontal disease has a very high rate of relapse if the cause is not appropriately addressed. Studies have conclusively demonstrated that relapse can be easily prevented by following a carefully prescribed program of maintenance therapy. Dr. Korn believes that patients are best served when an appropriate maintenance program is individually developed for them, taking into account all clinical factors as well as their life circumstances.