Root planning is a form of manually removing tartar and plaque build-up below the gum line beside a live tooth. It is often done in a deep cleaning routine along with scaling, tartar removal on teeth crowns. Often planning is done while mild gum disease is present to assist in healing and reattaching gums to a smooth tooth surface.
Your dentist should discuss the severity and depth of the offending plaque in the pocket and consider whether or not to use anesthesia. Often no numbing or pain relief is necessary and patients will only feel the scraping of the tooth during the removal process. An ultrasonic tool is sometimes used before a manual scraper to break up excessive build up. The dentist scrapes away layers of tartar until teeth roots are smooth and shiny again. Your dentist may choose to place antibiotic fibers in the gum pockets and have you return in a week to remove them.
Once the tooth is smooth and clean, antibiotic gels or medications such as chlorhexidine may be rinsed around the mouth or in the periodic pocket to kill any remaining infection or bacteria. The thickness of plaque and tartar build up will determine if the deep cleaning can be done in a single appointment or if additional office visits are necessary.
Pain and swelling can but may not occur after a deep mouth cleaning. Salt water or chlorhexidine rinses can help alleviate any discomfort and temporarily keep fresh plaque build-up at bay. Many people find their teeth are more sensitive to extreme temperatures, the pressure of brushing, and prone to bleeding. If this occurs, brushing and flossing can be postponed or done more gently then typical until pain subsides.
The only known complaint or concern associated with scaling and root planing have to do with the way it makes the bloodstream more susceptible to infection. People with heart problems, impaired immune system, or are at risk for infection should consult with their dentist about taking home medication or rinses like those mentioned above to prevent any complications.