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Root Planning / Curettage

Root planning


What is gum disease?

Gum disease affects the gums and bone supporting your teeth

It begins with plaque, a soft sticky substance that builds up on your teeth. Plaque is mostly made up of bacteria, which feed on sugar from food and drink. Tartar, formed by hardened plaque helps plaque to gather and makes it harder to remove

If plaque is allowed to build up, the bacteria in it can make your gums sore and infected. They will look red and puffy and will probably bleed when you brush your teeth

The gum will then start to become detached from your tooth, forming pockets in which plaque can gather – and bone supporting the tooth will slowly be lost. Because this process is usually painless it can become very bad without you noticing. If left unchecked, gum disease will lead to the loss of teeth


What is root planning/curettage?

Root planning is a way of helping to halt gum disease. It involves deep scaling, to clean parts of teeth below the gum line which cannot be reached with a toothbrush. Root planning cleans out the pockets and removes plaque and tarter from the tooth roots


What does the dentist or hygienist do?

Dentists and hygienists use two types of instrument for root planning

  • Hand scalers – come in different shapes and sizes to reach different parts of the teeth. This is why you will often see dentists changing instruments

  • Electric scalers use a tip that vibrates very fast in a stream of water, the water is removed from your mouth using a small suction device. A hand scaler is also used to check whether the roots are completely clean

After a tooth has been root planned, the pockets should shrink, making the gum sit closer to the tooth. You then need to be especially careful about cleaning the teeth above the gum line, root planning will probably need repeating regularly

Root planning takes longer that a normal scale and polish and is often done under a local anaesthetic, your mouth might be treated in sections at more than one visit

Points to remember

  • Root planning can help stop gum disease becoming worse and prevent tooth loss

  • Like scaling and polishing, root planning helps you keep your teeth and gums clean at home. Dentists and hygienists cannot keep your teeth healthy by themselves. Your own cleaning is just as important

  • To reduce the risk of gum disease progressing, do not smoke, and eat a healthy balanced diet

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