Scaling and Root Planning



Scaling and root planning is the advanced version of regular dental cleaning designed to treat gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Scaling and root planning is a non-surgical procedure, and you can consider it as a deep cleaning for your teeth.

When do you need scaling and root planning?

Healthy gums fit tightly around each tooth – the pocket around the tooth should only be 1-3 mm in depth. However, when bacterial plaque and tartar start packing up around the gums, the tissues supporting your teeth are affected, and periodontal disease develops, deepening the pockets between your teeth and your gums. During a check-up, a dentist will use a periodontal probe to measure the depth of these pockets. If these pockets are too deep, your dentist may diagnose you with periodontal disease. If you have advanced signs of gum disease such as bad breath, heavy tartar build-up, and unhealthy pocket depths, you are a candidate for scaling and root planning. If you have chronic periodontitis, you’ll need to go for scaling and root planning more often.

What do scaling and root planning involve?

Sometimes, scaling and root planning can take more than one session, depending on how bad the situation is. It can be done by either a dentist or a dental hygienist. Local anesthetic is applied to minimize any discomfort. The procedure involves thorough scaling of all plaque, bacterial toxins and tartar build-up from your teeth and root surfaces. Root planning involves smoothing of all the rough areas on your roots’ surfaces. Smooth surfaces help to keep bacteria, plaque and tartar build-up in check, allowing your gums to heal and reattach themselves more firmly to your teeth.

What happens after scaling and root planning

Your dentist will want to see you on a more regular basis to check whether your condition has improved. You may have to go to the dentist every 2-4 months. During these maintenance visits, you will receive general teeth cleaning, and the dentist will evaluate the state of your gums.

How to prevent periodontal disease

Anyone can get periodontal disease. The only way to prevent it is to maintain good dental hygiene practices and to visit the dentist often to spot early signs of periodontal disease. Apart from dental visits, there are a few things that you can do at home.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Regularly replace your toothbrush
  • Floss daily to clean between your teeth, bridgework, crowns or implants
  • Use antimicrobial mouthwash
  • Quit smoking

Root planning and scaling is a conservative way of treating periodontal disease. At Smiles New York, our dentists will be able to tell you whether you suffer from periodontal disease and whether you will benefit from root planning and scaling. Remember that periodontal disease is a recurring disease, so it’s critical that you visit your dentist regularly if you are prone to gum disease to keep the condition in check to avoid serious damage.