A Periodontist Discusses the Scaling and Root Planing Process

Scaling And Root Planing Plano, TX

Scaling and root planing is an interventive procedure completed by periodontists to remove plaque and tartar around the gums and the tooth roots. The procedure is required as a treatment for periodontal disease or infection, which often compromises the gums, bones, and tissues supporting the teeth. Continue reading to learn about the scaling and root planing procedure.

When is scaling and root planing recommended?

If the dentist notices evidence of chronic periodontal disease in the patient's mouth, they may prescribe scaling and root planing. These methods may help prevent the negative impacts of this disease and maintain a healthy mouth.

When the bacteria in plaque results in gum recession, then the patient is dealing with chronic periodontal disease. Large pockets form between the teeth and gums as a result, making it easier for germs to flourish in crevices that are inaccessible with regular at-home brushing. Adding flossing to the oral care routine may help remove bacterial plaque between the teeth, but it is hardly enough.

Research has shown that gum disease is associated with various health issues, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Scaling and root planing keeps the gums free of bacteria, which may potentially spread to the bloodstream and cause an infection.

The risk of periodontal disease increases when the gums have receded. A bacteria-friendly environment is created when the pockets (the spaces surrounding the tooth) deepen. The body's response is inflammation, and the gums get red and puffy or swollen. The gum tissue starts to die as a result of this inflammation. Scaling and root planing may assist in removing the plaque and stains from the teeth to create a more attractive smile.

Bacteria under the gum line can also cause chronic foul breath. Scaling and root planing eliminates bacteria to remove the odor and give the person cleaner, fresher breath.

The step-by-step process of scaling and root planing

In many cases, scaling and root planing are performed in two dental appointments. In the initial appointment, the periodontist will clean a section of the mouth, and the remaining section will be done in the second appointment. The steps generally include the following:

Administering local anesthesia

The dentist will usually apply local anesthesia to manage pain and bleeding during the procedure. A local anesthetic is typically used for minimally invasive dental treatments. First, the anesthetic will be administered via injection to numb the treatment area. Patients will be awake and aware of the entire procedure but will experience no discomfort throughout. It is normal to feel slight tenderness during and after the treatment.


The next step is to complete the subgingival scaling, which involves removing plaque and calculus from under the gums, between the gums, and at the gum line. The periodontist may perform scaling manually or with ultrasonic tools. The process loosens plaque and tartar buildup. The dentist will place the scaler in the gum pocket at an angle and proceed to scrape thoroughly.

Root planing

The tooth consists of the enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp. The progression of gum disease causes damage to the cementum and dentin. Root planing is done to smooth the rough root surface and eliminate bacteria present under the gum line. Planing requires removing the cementum completely, which is a hardened film covering the tooth's root. The treatment may also require removing a thin layer of the dentin, the next layer after the enamel.

After the procedure

After scaling and root planing, the periodontist will perform a final flush to eliminate any leftover bacteria. They may also apply antibiotics to the gum pockets to remove all infection. Patients may experience slight discomfort after the treatment. The gums will start to reattach to the teeth in the following days, and symptoms like inflammation, bleeding, sensitivity, and swelling will disappear.

Patients need to practice good oral care to prevent gum disease from progressing into its advanced stage, periodontitis. This causes gum and bone tissue loss that is irreversible. Correcting the damage often requires invasive surgery. Good oral health habits include flossing, brushing twice daily, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and going to dental exams and cleaning appointments.

Final note

Patients will need to visit the dental office a few weeks after undergoing scaling and root planing. This allows the periodontist to evaluate the gums and determine if the gum pockets have reduced in depth. If there is no significant improvement, another treatment session may be recommended. Remember, prompt gum disease treatment increases the chances of getting results with minimally invasive procedures.

Request an appointment here: https://www.texasipc.com or call Texas Implant & Dental Specialists at (972) 535-6555 for an appointment in our Plano office.

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