Scaling and Root Planing

Gum disease is caused by the sticky plaque that collects and builds up on the surface of the teeth and in severe cases, below the gumline. In most instances, individuals are unaware they have gum disease due to the many forms they have. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and when left untreated, can progress to a much severe stage known as advanced periodontitis.

Scaling and root planing are two dental procedures that help with the treatment of gum disease. Scaling involves the removal of the plaque and calculus deposits on the tooth surfaces, while root planing is the smoothing of the root surfaces in order to promote reattachment of the gum tissue to the tooth.

When Is Scaling And Root Planing Necessary?

Normally, healthy gum tissue fit tightly around the tooth. For individuals who suffer with gum disease, the gums are irritated and swollen and oftentimes bleed while brushing or flossing. When bacteria and plaque begin to accumulate underneath the gumline, the tissue begins to pull away from the tooth’s surface, forming pockets. Pockets trap debris and bacteria deep in the gum tissue and cause infection. Healthy gum pockets should measure about 1 to 3 millimeters in depth. Once the pockets measure 4 millimeters or more, scaling and root planing is recommended to remove the plaque buildup in the pockets.

What To Expect During Scaling

During the scaling procedure, our specialists will utilize a handheld tool known as a dental scaler to remove plaque on the surface of the teeth and below the gumline. Plaque and tartar, which is yellow or brown hardened plaque, is scraped off the tooth’s crown and roots.

What To Expect During Root Planing

Once the plaque and tartar has been removed from the pockets have been sterilized, the root planing procedure begins. A root planing tool is used to smooth out any rough surfaces on the root of the tooth. This provides a healthy surface for the gums to reattach properly so that bacteria and food particles do not get trapped below the gumline.

After Treatment Care

As with many dental procedures, there are symptoms that may be felt prior to the scaling and root planing procedure. Common symptoms include:

  • Tooth Sensitivity. New sensitivity to temperature changes and sweet or cold drinks may be felt prior to scaling and root planing. The sensitivity is minor and normally lasts two to three days after treatment.
  • Pain and discomfort. Discomfort may be experienced during and following the procedure. This is normal since the hygienist works subgingival, below the gum line, during the procedure. Due to the slight discomfort felt during, a local anesthetic is used to numb the area. It is advised to avoid chewing hard foods until the are is no longer numb to prevent any injuries to the tongue or cheeks.
  • Bleeding. It is normal to experience slight bleeding while brushing or flossing after scaling and root planing. Bleeding normally stops three days prior to treatment. 

To prevent an infection and to regulate the pain and discomfort felt after the treatment, our specialists may prescribe medication or a certain mouthwash. Practicing good oral care at home is essential to prevent gum disease. Therefore, make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to maintain a healthy mouth.