Periodontal Disease (gum disease) is a bacterial infection of the gums and bone surrounding a tooth.  When plaque (bacteria) is not controlled by Brushing, Flossing and Routine Preventive Cleanings, it begins to harden on the tooth creating Tartar or Calculus.  As time goes on, the gingival (gum) tissue becomes inflamed and bone loss occurs.  If left untreated, Periodontal Disease can destroy the gum and bone surrounding a tooth, causing it to become loose.  In the worst case, a tooth, which may otherwise be healthy, may need to be extracted due to Periodontal Disease.  Another important reason to stay clear of Periodontal Disease is that is has also been shown to contribute to other serious medical conditions.

Without removing the cause of the infection, the body is unable to overpower or defeat the disease process on its own.  The plaque (bacteria) must be removed for the area to have a chance of healing. Depending on the severity of the case, there are two accepted treatment paths.

Scaling & Root Planing

To remove the hard Calculus layer of bacteria from below the gum line, Scaling & Root Planing (SRP) is required. Scaling & Root Planing (SRP) is when the Doctor or skilled Hygienist goes deep below the gum line with hand-held scalers and UltraSonic Instruments to remove the bacterial growth in the deep pockets around the tooth.  It is typically done under local anesthesia for the patient’s comfort.

scaling root planing

Scaling: Removing the upper level of infected calculus.

scaling root planing

Root Planing: Smoothing the root, making it difficult for bacteria to reattach.


Depending on the severity of the case and the tolerance level of the patient, SRP can be done over four appointments, one section of the mouth at a time, or in two appointments, completing one half of the mouth per visit.  Once a section is complete, Periodontal Pocket Depths are taken to get true depth measurements of the clean pockets around the tooth.  If a pocket measures greater than 5 mm, Arestin is placed to aid in healing.  Arestin is a medicated powder containing Minocycline (a tetracycline derivative), which prevents plaque bacteria from developing and allows deep periodontal pockets to heal.  The patient will be given Oral Hygiene Instructions to help improve their Home Care, and a Philips SoniCare Toothbrush will be recommended.  Sonicare cleans the tooth with an ultrasonic wave, helping to remove plaque build-up below the gum-line better than an ordinary hand-held brush.  After all 4 sections of SRP are completed, the patient will be placed on a 3 month Periodontal Maintenance Recall, where additional cleaning will be done and the healing process of the periodontal pockets will be checked.