What is Scaling and Root Planing?

Has your periodontist or dentist recommended scaling and root planing (SRP) to you?  If so, do you wonder exactly what this procedure will accomplish?

SRP is a non-surgical treatment usually recommended to most periodontal patients as the first mode of treatment. It is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces below the gum line to remove plaque, toxins and tartar from the root surfaces of the teeth. This procedure is more intensive than a routine general dental prophylaxis or cleaning, which traditionally occurs every six months.

For your comfort, the area may be numbed prior to treatment.

In some cases, systemic antibiotics (antibiotics taken orally) or locally administered antibiotics (antibiotics placed into periodontal pockets) are prescribed at the time of the SRP procedure.   Antibiotics will help fight infections caused by the bacteria. Each time you take a systemic antibiotic, you increase your chance of developing drug resistant bacteria. That said, it is important to take antibiotics only as prescribed when necessary.

Research has consistently demonstrated that SRP reduces gingival inflammation and probing depths, and shifts the bacterial composition living in these pockets from one that is associated with disease toward one associated with health.

It is important to remember that some patients may not respond optimally to SRP with or without the antibiotics. These patients often respond favorably to advanced periodontal procedures that may include measures aimed at regenerating the natural anatomy that was lost to disease.

Tips for Clean and Fresh Breath

There’s more to maintaining fresh breath then sucking on breath mints. With all of the bacteria proliferating in the human mouth, it is no wonder why many people believe they have halitosis. Bad breath originates from certain oral bacteria producing an abundance of volatile sulfur compounds. It can be caused by several things, including certain foods, periodontal disease, dry mouth, tobacco use or a medical disorder.

Following are tips to keeping your breath clean and fresh:

  • Determine first if you have bad breath. One method is to take a dry cloth and wipe it across the back part of your tongue, and then smell it. Asking a friend or family member works too.
  • Mouthwashes, breath sprays and mints mask the problem temporarily. Mouthwashes with alcohol may further the problem because over time, it can dry out your mouth. If you have chronic bad breath, you will want to talk to your dental care provider to get to the source of the problem.
  • Be aware of foods that trigger bad breath such as garlic, onions and coffee.
  • Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Floss and brush your teeth, gums and tongue daily. Do not forget to clean behind the back teeth in each row.
  • Talk with your dentist or periodontist about oral problems that may be the cause. Your dental professional can also tell you about the latest techniques to treat bad breath.
  • If you determine that chronic bad breath is not from an oral source, see your physician.