What are the Risks of Scaling & Root Planing?

If your dentist or periodontist has recommended a scaling and root planing procedure, they have done so because they believe this is the best method for addressing and correcting your periodontal disease. Although there are certain risks involved in having this procedure performed, the risks of not having it performed are much greater.

One of the biggest risks involved with a scale and root planing procedure is that the gums will become infected due to bacteria being introduced into your bloodstream. It may also be necessary for patients who have heart issues, immune system issues, or who have recently had major surgeries to take antibiotics prior to and sometimes following the procedure.

Additional potential treatment risks associated with the scale and root planing procedure include the following:

  • Pain or discomfort: It is common to experience some mild aching or throbbing following your scaling and root planing procedure. This will typically subside a few hours after the procedure and the discomfort felt while brushing should be significantly improved within three days.
  • Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitivity to food or beverages that are hot or cold, as well as to sweets is very common for the first two to three days following your procedure.
  • Bleeding: Patients typically experience mild bleeding while brushing, but this should go away after two or three days.
  • Appearance: Because the root surfaces are now more exposed, you may notice that there is now more space between your teeth.
  • Discomfort in your jaw: Though uncommon, patients will occasionally experience jaw discomfort or have headaches or earaches. Over the counter pain relievers will typically relieve this pain, but if the pain persists, let your dentist know at your next visit.
  • Fever: Also uncommon, some patients may develop a low-grade fever and chills following the scaling and root planing procedure. If this happens to you, be sure to hydrate and take Tylenol to reduce the fever.

The Effects of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease has become increasingly common, but is generally preventable, so long as patients practice proper oral self-care and stick to a consistent schedule of seeing their dentist every six months. If left untreated for too long, periodontal disease can cause other issues to develop, including the following:

  • Bleeding and swelling can occur on your gums
  • Loss of tooth or teeth
  • Deterioration of jawbone

In addition to these risks, periodontitis also presents as gums that are chronically inflamed. There are many research articles that indicate inflammation of the gums can result in systemic inflammation, which can increase your risk of developing other health issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, dementia, or stroke. So, although there are minor risks associated with the scaling and root planing procedure, these risks are largely outweighed by the risks of not having the procedure performed.

The most important thing you can do to help mitigate these risks is to be honest with your dentist about your medical history and to continue practicing good oral hygiene habits.

More on Scaling & Root Planing / Deep Teeth Cleaning : Scale & Root Planing Aftercare