Periodontal disease can be described as an inflammation or infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. Bacterial plaque and its toxic by-products, plus calculus and roughened root surfaces, can overwhelm the mouth’s defenses. Typically, unhealthy gum tissue covers eroded bone, resulting in abnormal pockets around the roots. Left untreated, periodontal disease can result in loss of teeth. It is a common, and sometimes silent, condition in many adults.
Root planing and scaling are therapeutic (which means designed to heal) and time-consuming treatments to remove toxins (poisons) and bacteria from the root surfaces of the teeth. Periodontal (gum and bone) disease can be treated with root planing. Removing toxins allows the body’s immune system to begin the healing process. Calculus (sometimes called tartar, diseased cementum, and/or dentin) are also scaled away. (Cementum is the hard tissue that covers the tooth root. Dentin is that part of the tooth that is underneath the cementum.) These procedures are used as complete treatment in some stages of periodontal disease, and as part of preparing the mouth for surgery in others. Several appointments, treating sections of the mouth, and local anesthesia may be required.