Scaling and Root Planing

General Information & Overview

Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus, as know as tartar, from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins. This deep cleaning has two parts. Scaling is when your periodontist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gumline, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. Your periodontist 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.

After a deep cleaning, you may have pain for a day or two and teeth sensitivity for up to a week. Your gums also may be swollen, feel tender and bleed. To prevent infection, control pain or help you heal, your periodontist may prescribe a pill or mouth rinse or adjunctive therapy such as local delivery antimicrobials, systemic antibiotics, and host modulation. A follow-up visit will be scheduled to see how your gums have healed and then measure the depth of your pockets. If they have gotten deeper, more treatment may be needed.

The Benefits

If treatment is successful, scaling and planing may have many periodontal benefits.

  • It can help prevent disease.
  • Remove bacteria that cause from periodontal infections can travel through the bloodstream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases.
  • Protect teeth against tooth loss.
  • Reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity.
  • It can make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing by removing superficial stains.