Scaling and Root Planning

Scaling and root planing is the foundation of periodontal treatment. Thorough removal of plaque and calculus from deeper tissues is essential for successful periodontal therapy. These are incredibly effective methods to treat patients suffering from early stages of gingivitis and periodontitis.

What is scaling and root planing?

Scaling is a dental process that involves removing the calculus deposits or extrinsic stains present on the teeth. It eliminates supra and sub gingival deposits. Scaling is an oral prophylactic procedure to keep your gums in a healthy state. It is also a foremost treatment carried out in any cosmetic procedures.Scaling is often followed by polishing in cosmetic procedures.

Root planing is the process by which residual embedded calculus and portions of cementum are removed from the roots to produce a smooth, hard and clean surface.

Objectives of scaling and root planing:

  • Elimination or reduction of number of pathogenic periodontal microflora
  • Conversion of deepened pathologic bacteria to shallow healthy gingival sulcus- by reducing the pockets that develop between your teeth and gums, chances of tooth loss is also reduced.
  • Suppression of inflammed and bleeding gums to replace with healthy gingivae.
  • Providing a compatible root surface with reestablishment of a healthy connective tissue( helps gums reattach to the tooth)
  • Provide a smooth glassy root surface free of unhealthy bacteria and dead tissue
  • Better breath- halitosis or chronically bad breath, is one of the most common signs of periodontal disease. Food particles and bacteria trapped in the crevices of your mouth can cause persistent bad odor in the oral cavity. Periodontal scaling and root planing eliminate these small odor causing particles from the oral cavity.

How is scaling and root planing carried out?

Periodontal instruments are designed for specific purposes such as removing calculus, planing root surfaces, curetting gingiva and removing diseased tissue. Dentist uses handheld instruments or ultrasonic instruments to remove calculus and stains present on the teeth.

Scalers are used primarily to remove supra gingival calculus and curettes are used to remove deep subgingival calculus and root planing.It will be necessary to use mechanical instruments like ultrasound scalers and rotary instruments to achieve total removal of all embedded calculus. It may often take more than one visit to complete the procedure based on the severity of the disease.

Dentist may also perform a process called host modulation wherein additional medication is administered directly into your gums to help correct periodontal infection. Some patients feel slight discomfort and sensitivity during scaling. In most cases, local infiltration anesthesia is needed so that patients are comfortable and the clinician can focus on obtaining a smooth glass-like root surface free of calculus.

Slight bleeding may occur from the gums which subside overtime. The persistence of bleeding on probing after treatment can be the result of root roughness associated with incompletely removed sub gingival calculus and persistence of unhealthy bacterial biofilms on the root surface.

Oral irrigation helps reduce the amount of bacteria in the gingival crevice or pocket. Powered irrigation oral hygiene devices may add to the effectiveness of the patient’s other oral hygiene procedures when used with water or with antimicrobial solutions such as chlorhexidine.


After a deep cleaning, patients might experience pain for a day or two. They may feel their teeth sensitive for up to a week and may bleed slightly. Antibiotics and mouth wash may be prescribed by your dentist depending on your condition. After a professional dental cleaning, you should resume routine oral care practices at home.