During a regular dental examination, a hygienist may measure your gum lines. This is done to see if your gums are normal and healthy; and if they are, the measurements will be anywhere from 1 mm to 3 mm. If the measurements are larger than this, it is a sign of gum disease. If this is the case, the dentist may recommend having a procedure done that is called scaling and root planing.

What do larger measurements mean?

When a dentist measures your gum lines, he or she is looking at the size of the pockets in your gums. Normal gums rest firmly against the teeth and are high enough to cover part of the teeth. When gums begin to recede and wear away, they begin to pull away from the teeth and pockets form. This is what dentists look for, because it is a sign of gum disease. If you have gum disease, it needs to be treated to prevent it from worsening.

What is scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing is a procedure that is used to deeply clean the gum lines next to your teeth. It usually requires getting numbed beforehand, because it can be painful, and it can leave your gums red, swollen, and sore.

During this procedure, a dentist will use a tool called a scaler to clean all the bacteria, plaque, and tartar from your gum lines. This will include scaling inside your gums to make sure all the plaque and buildup is removed.

How does this help?

By cleaning these areas out, your gums will have a chance to heal, and this can help the gum tissue grow back. This procedure is only helpful when gum disease is detected at a relatively early state. If you have not been to a dentist in many years and have severe gum disease, you may need to have surgery to have it treated.

After you go through the process of scaling and root planing, your dentist will give you instructions to help you prevent further damage to your gums. This may include using a fluoride mouth rinse each day, flossing daily, and developing better brushing habits. In addition, you will need to visit your dentist regularly to have your mouth examined and any oral problems fixed.

If you would like to learn more about gum disease and ways to prevent it, contact a dentist today.