What is Root Planing, and Why Do I Need It?

Jul 07, 2022

What is Root Planing, and Why Do I Need It?

You’ve seen the tray of shiny metal tools your dental hygienist uses, but what are they all for? The hook-like instrument you might recall has a wide range of uses, including root planing. But it’s not for routine cleaning.

Here, Drs. April Toyer, Leonard Toyer, Edward Park, Christy Hark, and Payal Patel at Lifetime Dental Care explore the role root planing plays in our comprehensive oral health services. 

Root planing explained

When you come in for routine teeth cleaning, you can expect a bit of light scraping and polishing. When we have to turn to root planing, that typically means gum disease has set in. 

When you have gum disease, pockets of infection form along your gumline, causing your gum tissue to gradually pull away from your teeth. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and damage to your jawbone. A deeper cleaning than the one you get every six months is usually the first place we start when treating this aggressive oral health threat.

During root planing, we use a hooked utensil to reach below your gum line and smooth out the surface of your tooth roots. 

Why is this important?

Smoothing out your tooth roots decreases gum inflammation caused by gum disease and allows your gums to reattach to your teeth. It also effectively prevents bacteria, plaque, and tartar from reattaching underneath your gumline. 

Scaling and root planing: a dynamic duo

It’s hard to talk about root planing without mentioning scaling. Root planing immediately follows scaling, which is the process of gently scraping harmful substances and toxins from the visible surfaces of your teeth, as well as the surfaces below your gumline. 

We use both processes to clean your teeth completely and eradicate all evidence of gum disease. 

Depending on how severe your gum disease is, we may recommend local anesthesia to keep you comfortable while we work. After your treatment, you may experience tenderness or discomfort for a few days, and your gums may be swollen or painful. 

Fortunately, scaling and root planing are incredibly effective, and our patients are glad to hear that their gum inflammation is gone at their follow-up appointment.

Preventing disease in the future

Root planing is an incredibly effective way to address gum disease — but it’s not something you want to make a habit of. We know that most battles against gum disease are fought beyond the doors of our office. So, we want to equip you with a few practical strategies to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Consider these basic oral health care tips:

  • Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Replace your toothbrush when the bristles wear down
  • Floss daily, including between crowns, bridges, and implants
  • Use an antimicrobial mouthwash
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Avoid or quit smoking and using other tobacco products

Healthy habits like these combined with the support of expert dentists like ours are the best way to support your oral health from the inside out. 

If you have more questions about our procedures, or if you’d like to come in for a checkup, don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff at 703-499-9779 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at our Woodbridge, Virginia, office today.