Calculus–That is the “Root” of Periodontal Disease

Dr. Lee Sheldon

Let’s get down to fundamentals, fundamentals of how you can keep your teeth. Let’s let go of the commercials, the promises, the TV ads, many of which say that the only answer to periodontal disease is dental implants. Let’s look at the basics of healing. 

In a landmark paper about to be released in the Journal of Periodontology, Drs. Charles Cobb and John Sottosanti, well-respected periodontal researchers, define the very keys to success in periodontal treatment. That success is so well defined that you need to know it too. 

The fundamental treatment for periodontal disease is calculus removal, often called scaling and root planing.  To quote Drs. Cobb and Sottosanti, “Good clinicians understand that SRP is a technically challenging procedure.”  That is an important point.

Thorough calculus removal is often hard to come by. It requires the following: a hygienist who is superbly talented and sharp instruments that can engage the calculus and thoroughly remove it from the tooth root. A sharpening stone should therefore be a part of every root planing procedure, as instruments require resharpening during the treatment. 

The paper notes that calculus is more strongly bonded to the root than the calculus is to itself. That means that in the attempt to remove the calculus, the calculus may break, leaving calculus on the root. The result? Continuing periodontal disease, continuing bone loss. 

A thorough scaling and root planing procedure should only need to be done once. Repeated scaling and root planing likely means that all of the calculus was not removed in the first place. 

If periodontal pockets remain after scaling and root planing, then it is time for you to see a periodontist. The periodontist has advanced instrumentation as well as the “eye” to see the source of the periodontal problem, remove it, and save your teeth. 

Lee N. Sheldon, DMD
Dental Implants-Periodontics
2223 Sarno Road
Melbourne, Florida 32935
(321) 259-9980