Understanding the Procedure

To begin treating periodontal disease, we must typically begin by eliminating the bacterial plaque and tartar that are known to cause inflammation, disease, and irreversible tissue damage. Often referred to as a deep cleaning, scaling and root planing can serve as a stand-alone periodontal treatment or it can be performed in preparation for a surgical procedure.

To perform the procedure, we will use specialized instruments to remove the film of bacterial plaque and tartar that have become attached to the roots of your teeth. We will especially target the buildup that has accumulated below the gum line. Next, it is important to smooth, or plane, the roots of the teeth to eliminate the crevices that would attract toxic microorganisms. Root planing promotes healing and makes it more difficult for bacteria to colonize there in the future.  This non-surgical procedure is typically performed with the help of local anesthetics for your personal comfort.

Adjunctive Therapy

In addition to removing plaque and tartar, we often use antibiotics or prescription mouth rinses to help control the toxic bacteria that would otherwise interfere with the healing process.

After scaling and root planing, if deep pockets between the teeth and gums cannot be adequately managed at home, surgical treatment may be recommended to treat the pockets and further improve your periodontal health.

Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing

Ridding your body of bacterial plaque and tartar can help to prevent or control various systemic diseases. Studies have shown heart and respiratory diseases can be aggravated by the bacteria which are associated with periodontal disease.

Scaling and root planing can also be essential in the fight against tooth loss. When bacteria are allowed to colonize in pockets that are more than 3mm below the gumline, it will eventually cause the body’s chronic inflammatory response to destroy gum tissue and bone. This is the leading cause of tooth loss.

A clean mouth, fresher breath, and stain-free teeth are the most immediate benefits of scaling and root planing. When food particles and bacterial byproducts are flushed from beneath the gums and between the teeth, you’ll feel more confident about your smile, your breath, and also your health.

To learn more about scaling and root planing, or to schedule your treatment, please contact our office today.

Common Questions

Scaling and root planing is a procedure performed when a patient has developed periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Bacteria is cleaned from underneath the gumline (subgingival), and the surfaces of the roots of the teeth are smoothed over to eliminate points at which bacteria can collect. This is the least invasive treatment option to reverse symptoms of periodontitis. More advanced cases of this condition may require surgical interventions.

If you have symptoms of periodontitis, such as pockets developing between the gums and the teeth or early gum recession, you may need to undergo root planing and scaling.

Periodontitis involves more accumulation of plaque and tartar underneath the surface of the teeth than the milder gingivitis. However, untreated gingivitis creates the environment in which the bacteria can infiltrate the area underneath the gumline. So, patients who fail to address gingivitis in a timely fashion may find themselves in need of root planing and scaling instead of a less intensive dental cleaning that could eliminate the bacteria buildup involved in gingivitis.

Scaling of the teeth is the portion of the treatment that focuses on removing the plaque from all of the teeth’s surfaces. Often, ultrasonic instruments can be used in this part of the process to reduce patient discomfort and more effectively remove plaque and calculus in the area.

Scaling and root planing may also be called a “deep cleaning” of the teeth because the procedure goes below the surface of the gums to thoroughly clean all areas of the teeth and remove any bacteria that may be present.

Patients receive local anesthetic before undergoing root planing and scaling, so they should experience minimal discomfort during the procedure. As the local anesthetic wears off, patients might have some minor discomfort that can typically be managed with over-the-counter painkillers if it occurs.