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Scaling and Root Planing

What is the difference between a professional cleaning and scaling and root planing?

Scaling and Root Planing is a highly skilled procedure that removes calculus, or tartar, that is loaded with bacteria, around and below the gum line where the toothbrush and floss cannot reach. A professional cleaning removes only the soft sticky plaque and calculus that is above the gum line. Scaling and Root Planing is a method of treating gum disease when pockets form around the teeth. Plaque and tarter that sits on the teeth provides an environment, which allows bacteria to thrive and multiply. The bacteria cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed. The condition becomes more noticeable when you brush your teeth or sometimes when you eat. These are signs of the early stage of gingivitis. Gingivitis is easily treated by having the hygienist scale and polish the teeth. If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition will progress and the roots will need a planing. The difference between scaling and root planing is simple. Scaling is the removal of the dental tartar from the tooth surface Root planing is the process of smoothing the root surfaces and removing the infected tooth structure.

As a non-surgical procedure, scaling and planing is performed without any anesthesia, in the dentist’s office. While the procedure is usually painless, advanced stages of gingivitis may make it necessary to numb the area for complete comfort. Deep scaling and root planing is usually broken down into one section of the mouth per appointment. This allows for adequate healing time, and reduces the time for each appointment.

Is there maintenance required once I have had scaling and root planing?

Once you have had periodontal scaling and root planing, it is recommended to repeat the process either once per year or once every two years, depending on the severity, to prevent further destruction of the supporting tissues along with regular follow-ups and professional cleanings every 3-4 months.


REMEMBER: Periodontal Disease is NOT curable but can be improved and maintained, thus reducing the systemic effects.