Scaling and Root Planing: A Non-Surgical Gum Disease Treatment
The American Academy of Periodontology guidelines stress that periodontal health should be achieved in the least invasive and most cost-effective manner. This is often accomplished through non-surgical periodontal treatment called scaling and root planing (SRP). 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.
Most periodontists would agree that after scaling and root planing, many patients do not require any further active treatment, including surgical therapy. However, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain 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 and to facilitate oral hygiene practices.