Scaling and root planning (SRP) are non-surgical weapons in the periodontist’s arsenal for fighting gum disease.   A periodontist is a dental specialist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the gums when there is gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) develops when oral hygiene is inadequate or lacking, leading to the formation of dental plaque on gums and teeth.  Plaque has a high concentration of bacteria that causes local irritation and inflammation of the gum tissues.

Gum disease is preventable by proper oral hygiene – it happens when bacteria (plaque) is not removed by daily brushing and flossing and hardens into calculus/tartar that can only be removed with special tools by a dentist.

When gum disease is present, you have calculus/tartar below the gum line, and that means you’ve not had a professional cleaning frequently enough.  Gums are not attached at the gum line, but rather below the point that you see in the mouth.  That creates a little crevice or “moat” around each tooth where bacteria can find a place to hide and grow.

You may be surprised to know that teeth are not directly supported by bones in the jaw. Rather, teeth are actually held in place by thousands of tiny fibers that connect the root of the tooth to the bone.  When there is a bacterial infection that stems from untreated periodontal disease, these fibers can become damaged or destroyed.  In a case when gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis, pockets are created that allow infection to spread, resulting in bone loss underneath the gums. Thus, it is extremely important to diagnose and treat gum disease before it threatens the integrity of the structures that support the teeth — or can even cause tooth loss.

If severe periodontal disease is present, a procedure called scaling and root planing may be recommended. This is a thorough deep cleaning and disinfecting procedure that not only removes the plaque and tartar, but also smooths (planes) the root surface so the gum tissue can better reattach to the tooth, shrinking the pocket.

If your dentist says that you need a root planing, believe it!   It’s an important procedure that needs to be done.  If you don’t get it done, then you’re going to be at risk for all sorts of much worse health problems like heart disease, cancer, bacterial pneumonia, infections in the blood, and the like. If the inflammatory index (CRP) rises and stays high, other parts of your body will become inflamed. And of course, that’s not a good thing…. So much easier and less expensive to have the procedure, not to mention saving your health!

Following a scaling and root planing treatment, most patients do not require any additional treatment.  However, ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health is a good idea.   Periodontal procedures can give you a healthy mouth, and maintain a perfect smile.

If you are interested in periodontal scaling and root planing in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.