Gum infection is caused by a tenacious residue of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but lack of proper oral hygiene with daily flossing & brushing, can cause the bacteria to inflame your gums. Your gums will recede from your teeth and form spaces called pockets when the bacterial infection is left untreated. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum infection could lead to bone and tooth loss.
This complex procedure includes two parts. Scaling is when your hygienist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gum line, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. Your hygienist will then begin root planing, smoothing out your teeth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth. Scaling and root planing may take more than one visit to complete and may require a local anesthetic.
After a scaling and root planing procedure, you may have discomfort for a day or two and teeth sensitivity for up to a week. Your gums also may be swollen, feel tender and bleed. This is a sign that the hygienist did a thorough job removing the bacterial infection.
To control the infection, and discomfort or help you heal, your dentist may prescribe a medication or prescription mouth rinse. Your dentist may also insert medication (subantimicrobial-dose doxycycline) directly into the pocket that was cleaned.