Root Planing – Managing Advanced Gum Disease

Root Planing – Managing Advanced Gum Disease

‘Deep cleaning’ to help manage periodontitis.

As we have mentioned in previous posts, gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in the UK. Despite being relatively easily prevented with some basic oral care, advanced gum disease is not unusual and needs to be treated quickly to prevent deterioration of the jawbone structure which can lead to tooth loss.

At the Foxhall Dental Practice, our emphasis is on the prevention of gum disease, and, for this reason we recommend that patients visit the hygienist at our Ipswich practice on a regular basis for professional preventative cleaning. This will help to keep the teeth and gums free from gingival bacteria.

Gingivitis and periodontitis

Early stage gum disease is called gingivitis and is relatively mild. It can usually be reversed through either better oral health care, such as the addition of flossing, for example; and/or through increased visits for professional cleans, known as ‘scale and polish’. This is a relatively straightforward procedure that can be performed without the need for a local anaesthetic. Periodontitis is another matter. This is a problem that should not really occur, given the relative ease with which gingivitis can be prevented and managed; however, if it is neglected, gingivitis becomes more advanced and can become periodontitis.

Whilst gingivitis manifests itself in sore and bleeding gums, periodontitis attacks the bone in the jaw and this, in turn, destabilises the teeth, sometimes leading to tooth loss.

Root planing

When periodontitis is detected, leaving it as it is is not an option, and, in many cases root planing will need to take place. This is a relatively invasive procedure and is usually performed using a local anaesthetic for the patient’s comfort. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘deep clean’ and is similar to the professional clean performed by the hygienist, with the difference that the hardened bacteria (tartar) is cleaned not only from the teeth and gum line, but deep under the gums as well, potentially right down to the roots.

The initial loosening of the tartar is sometimes done using ultrasound equipment to remove the worst of it. The rest will then be removed using manual equipment, enabling your dentist to scrape away the remaining tartar. When all bacteria has been removed from the teeth and under the gum line, the gums then have a chance to heal, helping to preserve your natural teeth.


As might be expected following such a procedure, some sensitivity is likely, and hot or cold food or drinks should be avoided for a short while until the gums recover. Some temporary soreness should also be expected and this can be managed using regular pain management medication. To ensure that gum disease is monitored and treated appropriately, regular dental and hygienist appointments at the Foxhall Dental Practice are recommended. To make an appointment, please call us on 01473 258396.