Root planing, commonly referred to as “deep cleaning”, is a procedure involving the removing of the irritants (plaque and calculus/tartar) in the periodontal pocket (the area under the gums) and smoothing of the root surface. The difference between a “tooth cleaning” and root planing is similar to having your car washed versus having it detailed. Dr. John, himself, does all of his initial root planings on his new patients and on most of his patients that need periodic root planing.
We commonly think that the build up of calculus and plaque under the gums is due to not seeing the dentist/hygienist regularly. Truth is that even with regular cleanings, it is possible to get calculus and/or plaque to form in areas that are difficult to access and/or too sensitive to remove. Due to the variation in calculus formation with each individual, some patients may never need root planing in their life time while others may need root planing every few months.
Root planing is often done under a local anesthetic (the numbing similar to having a filling), although anesthesia is not always needed. The instruments that we use are very similar to those we use with regular ‘cleanings’. There times that an ultrasonic scaler (cavitron) is used to aid in the root planing. The ultrasonic scaler is an instrument that uses vibration and water to remove and clean out the calculus.
About a month after the root planing, we will have you come back for a re-examination. It is at that appointment that we will decide if the root planing accomplished our objectives or if further treatment is needed.