Dental Scaling and Root Planing

The objective of scaling and root planing, otherwise known as conventional periodontal therapy or non-surgical periodontal therapy, is to remove or eliminate the etiologic agents which cause inflammation: dental plaque, its products and calculus, thus helping to establish a periodontium that is free of disease.


Scaling and root planing remove rough calculus deposits on the root that can attract and collect bacteria

They help gums or pocket wall reattach firmly to the spotlessly clean root surface to help prevent tooth loss

They decrease tooth sensitivity due to gum recession

They prevent bone loss

They make it difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces

They prevent tooth loss due to gum disease

It stops gum disease from getting worse

Who is this procedure for?

Patients with gums that bleed during brushingPatients with tender or swollen gums

Patients who have developed deep pockets between teeth and gums

People with persistent bad taste and breath in their mouth

People who have pus between the gums and the teeth when the gums are pressed

Who should not consider this procedure?

Patients who have pacemakers should avoid scaling as the vibrations caused by the instruments that are used can interfere with the pacemakers.

What happens before the procedure?

Root planing is a form of deep cleaning, so the hygienist needs to numb the mouth. The numbing of the mouth is the reason why not all 4 mouth quadrants are done during one visit - the numbness of the whole mouth can be very unnerving. Before the actual procedure, the hygienist may remove bigger chunks of tartar. This way he or she can remove up to 50 % of the existing tartar, leaving the rest to scaling. Some hygienists may choose to numb the mouth due to the depth of the cleaning.

What happens during the procedure?

Depending on the extent of the disease patients may need to have one or more mouth sections treated with scaling and root planing. Scaling means that the hygienist deep-cleans the teeth using instruments that are called "scalers" to remove the rest of the tartar and plaque. When the scaling is done, he or she uses curettes to plane the roots until they are smooth. This is root planing.

The hygienist uses an ultrasonic instrument (hand scaler) to scrape the plaque and tartar off. Using special instruments he or she needs to reach all parts of the tooth and clean them completely. Next, he or she uses an electric scaler which vibrates with water and cleans out the mouth. The debris that is left in the mouth is suctioned along with the water.

What happens after the procedure?

Patients are likely to experience sensitivity to cold and hot and it is recommended to use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Besides advising patients to brush and floss thoroughly daily, an antibacterial mouthwash may be prescribed.

A follow-up treatment is required in about a month.