DentalSave Knowledge Center
Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing (Deep Cleaning)
Sometimes called a deep cleaning, periodontal scaling and root planing is a nonsurgical procedure that is performed to remove plaque, tartar and bacteria from your teeth above and below the gumline.
Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. The bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed and pull away from your teeth, forming spaces that are called pockets. When bacteria and tartar accumulate around and under the gums, the tissues that support your teeth may be also be affected. If left untreated, periodontal disease can develop, which may lead to bone and tooth loss.
What is involved in periodontal scaling and root planing?
Before the scaling process, your dentist or hygienist will numb your gums and tooth roots with a local anesthetic. They will then use specialized tools to remove the hardened deposits of plaque and tartar from the teeth both above and below the gumline, all the way down to the bottom of the pocket.
Root planing smooths the rough areas on the roots of the teeth. Smooth root surfaces keep bacteria, plaque and tartar from adhering underneath the gumline, which allows your gums to heal and reattach themselves more firmly to your teeth. Your dentist may also use an antibiotic gel to kill any bacteria left in the pockets. Periodontal scaling and root planing usually takes more than one appointment, as most dentists prefer to do only one quadrant or arch at each visit.
Does dental scaling hurt?
With use of a local anesthetic, periodontal scaling and root planing usually causes very little discomfort. Afterward, your gums may be swollen, feel tender and bleed. You may also have slight pain for a day or two and tooth sensitivity for up to a week. To prevent infection and help you heal, your dentist may prescribe a mouth rinse.
At your follow-up visit, your dentist will check the healing of your gums and pocket depth. If your gum tissue looks good and remains stable, you may not need any further treatment. Maintaining a consistent oral health routine of twice-daily brushing and flossing should keep your gums pink and healthy.
In addition to routine dental cleanings, your dentist may also recommend that you come in for periodontal maintenance visits. At these appointments, your dentist will clean your teeth, carefully examine your gum tissue, measure pocket depths and check gum recession.
Periodontal scaling and root planning can play a critical role in treating and preventing periodontal disease.