Once gum disease has advanced beyond the initial stage of gingivitis it is referred to professionally as periodontitis. At this point the plaque that the teeth have been exposed to on a daily basis has hardened into tartar.

Dental tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing or even with a professional cleaning, it must be scraped away with a specific dental tool. If tartar is left on the teeth for too long the bacteria will begin to affect the gums and the bone structure that supports the teeth.

The description may sound severe but the least invasive treatment for periodontitis is a procedure called scaling and root planing. In reality SRP is a somewhat intensified version of the procedure the hygienist typically uses to clean a patient’s teeth. During this process however, the roots of the teeth will be smoothed out so that bacteria has less of a chance to re- accumulate there. Because there is the necessity for an increased depth in probing the hygienist will complete the treatment over two or more appointments. Some patients may be more comfortable with a local anesthetic.

If SRP treatment is successful the gums will heal and begin to re-position into alignment with the teeth. The dentist may want to schedule regular cleanings at three or four month intervals instead of the typical six month, for some time to come.

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