Scaling & Root Planing

What Is Scaling and Root Planing?

A two-step procedure, the deep cleaning is known as scaling teeth, and root planing might take more than one appointment. To minimize any discomfort, you might need a local anesthetic.

The goal is to thoroughly scale all plaque, bacterial toxins, and tartar deposits from your teeth and root surfaces.

Step One: Scaling

Dental scaling dives deeper into the gumline with manual hand instruments, ultrasonic instruments, or both.

If your hygienist – or dentist – uses an ultrasonic scaling device, sonic vibrations will remove the plaque bacteria and tartar (calculus) from the tooth surface and underneath the gumline.

A manual dental scaler can do the same thing. Or it can supplement the ultrasonic device by removing particles the device can't break loose.

Step Two: Root Planing

Root planing involves an even deeper dive with detailed scaling of the root surface to smooth out rough areas.

Smooth root surfaces keep bacteria, plaque, and tartar from re-adhering underneath the gumline. Root planing decreases gum tissue inflammation, allowing your gums to heal and reattach themselves more firmly to your teeth.

If needed to prevent infection, your dentist might administer medicine directly into the area undergoing the procedure.

After your deep cleaning, you'll need to schedule a follow-up visit with your dentist.

What Should I Expect After the Procedure?

If you had local anesthesia, you might have pain and anti-inflammation medicine on hand after the effect wears off. Or your dentist might prescribe pain medication and something to prevent infection. An oral rinse to aid in infection prevention might be in order.

The medicine and rinse can help you experience pain for a couple of days and teeth sensitivity for about a week. And your gums might be swollen, tender, and even bleed.

Most people get the good news that inflamed gum tissue is once again firm and pink at your follow-up dentist visit. Other positive signs are that the bleeding stopped, and the pockets surrounding your gum tissue are smaller.

If all looks good, you might not need any further treatment. You can then set up periodic maintenance visits.

However, if the pockets have become deeper, additional treatment might be in order. Some advanced conditions might require periodontal surgery. Your scaling and root planing treatment, though, often lessens the amount of surgery you need.

Does scaling & root planing hurt after?

If you had local anesthesia, you might have pain and anti-inflammation medicine on hand after the effect wears off. Or your dentist might prescribe pain medication and something to prevent infection. An oral rinse to aid in infection prevention might be in order.

Can root planing loosen teeth?

Scaling and root planing treatment does not loosen your teeth. However, the long-term buildup of plaque and tartar below the gum line can loosen your teeth from the gum pockets.

Is scaling and root planing necessary?

To prevent the progression of periodontal disease (advanced gum disease), scaling and root planing treatment is necessary. If left untreated, the disease can result in tooth loss.