It might be a bit disconcerting when your dentist tells you that they need to plane your tooth roots. After all, planing is something that's ordinarily performed on wooden tabletops and floors, to smooth the surface of the object. So how does planing apply to your oral health, and why would the roots of your teeth need to be smoothed out? 

Planing and Scaling

Planing goes hand-in-hand with scaling, which is when your dentist removes excess plaque and tartar from your dental enamel. The removal process is the actual scaling, and this is necessary to prevent this plaque and tartar from contributing to an accumulation of harmful bacteria, which can aggravate your gingival tissues, ultimately leading to gingivitis. Scaling is supragingival, in that it treats the areas of your teeth above your gingival tissues (your gums). Root planing is subgingival, as it's intended to treat the sections of your teeth beneath your gingival tissues.

Your Tooth Roots

Root planing is an extension of scaling and is focused on any exposed tooth roots. It removes problematic dentin (the substance of your teeth that is beneath your dental enamel) and cementum (which surrounds and protects the roots of your teeth). When dentin or cementum is contaminated with tartar or bacteria, it will be removed with a special tool (which is known as a periodontal curette).

Treating Tooth Roots

If your dental roots are not treated when needed, the connection between the tooth and the underlying bone can be compromised. Without treatment, the tooth can destabilise. It might even become mobile (shifting position in its socket). Although it might retain its structural integrity, this new position will change the biting position of your mouth, which in turn causes an adjustment of your bite pressure. This creates undue stress on your teeth and can accelerate deterioration and tooth loss, amongst other complications. This is why your dentist will pay particular attention to any exposed tooth roots, performing root planing to allow the tooth to reattach to the underlying tissues.

Your Comfort 

Root planing can be a necessary part of your dental checkup, and it's not as intensive as it might sound. It doesn't hurt, although the process can certainly trigger some sensitivity. If you're concerned about this aspect of the procedure, your dentist can numb your jaw, sparing you any potential distress. 

Root planing is an essential component of your regular dental treatment, since treating what lies beneath your gums can be just as important as treating what's above your gums. For more information, contact a local dentist