When Is Scaling And Root Planing Needed?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. Scaling and root planing, also known as deep cleaning, is a dental procedure that removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from below the gum line to treat periodontal disease.

When is Scaling and Root Planing Needed?

Scaling and root planing is typically recommended for patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease. This includes those with:

  • Deep gum pockets: Healthy gum pockets measure less than 3 millimeters. However, in periodontal disease, gum pockets can deepen, creating spaces where plaque and bacteria can accumulate.

  • Receding gums: When the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the roots, it indicates the progression of periodontal disease.

  • Bleeding gums: Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing are a sign of inflammation and potential infection.

  • Bone loss: Periodontal disease can cause damage to the bone that supports the teeth, making them loose and increasing the risk of tooth loss.

Symptoms that may indicate the need for scaling and root planing:

  • Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Unexplained tooth sensitivity
  • Teeth that appear longer due to receding gums

What to Expect During Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is usually performed under local anesthesia to numb the area around the teeth. The procedure involves two main steps:

  1. Scaling: The dentist uses specialized instruments to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line.

  2. Root Planing: The dentist smoothes the root surfaces of the teeth to remove any remaining bacteria and encourage the reattachment of the gums to the teeth.

Scaling and root planing may be done in one or more visits, depending on the severity of the periodontal disease.

Aftercare for Scaling and Root Planing

After scaling and root planing, you may experience some mild discomfort, gum sensitivity, and slight bleeding. To manage these symptoms and promote healing, follow these recommendations:

  • Apply ice packs to the affected area to reduce swelling.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day.
  • Eat soft foods for a few days.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.

Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing offers several benefits, including:

  • Reduces inflammation and bleeding of the gums
  • Removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from below the gum line
  • Promotes healing and reattachment of the gums to the teeth
  • Prevents further progression of periodontal disease
  • Reduces the risk of tooth loss


Scaling and root planing is an essential treatment for periodontal disease, helping to control the infection, protect the gums and bone that support the teeth, and prevent tooth loss. If you have any signs or symptoms of periodontal disease, consult your dentist to determine if scaling and root planing is right for you. Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are crucial for preventing periodontal disease and maintaining a healthy smile. Please find the dental office near you in these locations: Attleboro, Chelmsford, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Lynn, Manchester, Methuen, Roslindale, Taunton.

Related Posts