Root planing

Root planing is a method of treating severe gum disease. When having gum disease, inflammation of the tissues will lead to separation of gum from the root surface, which creates a tiny space known as a periodontal pocket. It can be very difficult to keep clean and allows bacteria to accumulate. Root planing is the meticulous cleaning of root surfaces to remove dental plaque and calculus.

Purpose

Remove the dental plaque and calculus on the root surface inside periodontal pocket in order to get rid of the bacteria that cause gum disease. It helps to reduce inflammation and allows the gum diseases to be recovered.

Procedures for root planing:

People with severe gum disease need to receive treatments of scaling and root planing. Before carrying out treatment, the dentist will use a periodontal probe and take radiographs to confirm the severity of gum disease. The dentist will also let the involved area be numbed by using anaesthesia to reduce discomfort during treatment. Instruments called curettes or ultrasonic cleaners will be used to remove the plaque and calculus on root surface in the periodontal pocket.

Animation showing the root planing procedure being performed by appropriate dental instruments for a patient with gum disease.

If needed, the dentist may perform periodontal surgery that flips the gum, exposing the root surface. Then the dentist can clean the root surface with direct vision.

Animation showing the periodontal surgery being performed by appropriate dental instruments for a patient with severe gum disease.

Points to note after root planing:

  • In the first few days after root planing, it is common to have mild discomfort and mild bleeding from the gum. Keep on good oral hygiene, and the discomfort and bleeding will subside eventually. The gum will become healthy again.
  • Good oral hygiene is essential for gum healing after root planing. Proper daily oral care should be performed which includes brushing the teeth thoroughly twice daily, and using floss or interdental brush to clean adjacent tooth surfaces. Smoking will adversely affect the recovery from gum disease, so it must be quitted.
  • The entire course of treatment on gum disease usually involves multiple appointments, remember to follow the schedule of appointments and to keep regular dental check-up.