Many periodontal patients are familiar with the process of scaling and root planing. This procedure involves a thorough cleaning below the gum line to remove the destructive plaque and calculus that has been happily growing beyond the reach of a typical brushing and flossing routine. However, some patients do not understand the importance of the post-scaling and root planing evaluation that we schedule two to four weeks after the final scaling and root planing procedure. Misconceptions surrounding the two-to-four-week evaluation are unfortunate, since that appointment may be the most important one in the entire scaling and root planing treatment plan.
First, at this hour-long evaluation, we gently probe your gums and measure the pockets to determine how your mouth has responded to treatment. It is crucial at this juncture to calculate your probing depths since the extent of the success of the scaling and root planing determines your treatment plan for months to come. Even for the most successful scaling and root planing procedures, a failure to map out a course of treatment to maintain the results of the procedure ultimately results in the re-invasion of subgingival plaque and calculus and the need to undergo scaling and root planing multiple times.
This evaluation allows us to make a number of important determinations regarding your future periodontal treatment. For example, if your gingiva responds well to scaling and root planing, we may need to see you less frequently. However, if you have particularly active periodontal disease, or remaining subgingival calculus, the evaluation permits us to plan a periodontal maintenance treatment schedule to best sustain your oral health in the long term. After spending extensive time and money eradicating the effects of periodontal disease from your mouth, it would be a shame to allow periodontal inflammation to run rampant once again.
The follow-up appointment also allows us to uncover crucial information about how your systemic health (diabetes, rheumatism, etc.) affects your oral health and to plan your treatment accordingly. Moreover, at this appointment, we also polish the teeth. We make sure that the surface of your teeth is as healthy as the gums surrounding your teeth.
Also, many patients do not realize that it takes a mere six to eight weeks for disease-causing bacteria to grow back underneath the gums. This evaluation lets us determine how quickly each individual’s subgingival bacteria proliferates, and the appointment further lets us get a jump start on keeping the recently removed plaque and calculus gone for good.
Finally, studies show that any area deeper than five millimeters could still contain residual biofilm that requires removal. This aspect of your periodontal health will be assessed at this follow-up appointment as well.
To conclude, the two-to-four-week evaluation is a vital part of the scaling and root planing treatment. By measuring your probing depths, evaluating bleeding on probing, polishing your teeth, and planning out your periodontal maintenance appointments with you, we ensure that you have the best possible treatment to protect the health of your freshly cleaned teeth and gums for the long term.
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