Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning below the gumline to treat gum disease. Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on teeth, but if they aren’t cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause gums to become inflamed. When this happens, gums will pull away from teeth and form spaces called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease could lead to bone and tooth loss.

If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gum line, a professional cleaning should do. If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, however, scaling and root planing may be needed.

Dental Scaling

Dental scaling occurs with manual hand instruments, ultrasonic instruments or both. The dentist will start the procedure with a thorough examination of your mouth. Next, an ultrasonic scaling device will be used to eliminate the plaque bacteria with sonic vibrations. The ultrasonic scaling device removes tartar (calculus), plaque and biofilm from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line. A manual instrument may be used next to remove the remainder.


Root Planing

Root planing involves detailed scaling of the root surface to decrease inflammation of the gum tissue. The dentist scales the root surface to smooth out rough target areas, eliminating plaque and biofilm development.

How Will It Feel? 

If your gum tissue is sensitive and diseased, local anesthesia can be administered to numb the tissue. If your teeth are sensitive before or after the professional cleaning, it may be recommended that you use  a desensitizing paste to provide you with sensitivity relief. Dental scaling and root planing may take two to four visits based upon the level of oral disease in the mouth.