Scaling and Root Planing

You may notice that your gums bleed a bit when brushing or flossing. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis.

If plaque and tartar are left on the teeth, it provides the right conditions for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums, which means they bleed more easily. If you have gingivitis, your dentist will clean your teeth by scaling and polishing them. He may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine and show you how to effectively brush and floss your teeth. Most adults have some degree of gum disease.


The objective of scaling & root planning is to remove etiologic agents which cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone. Common etiologic agents this conventional periodontal therapy remove include dental plaque and tartar (calculus). These non-surgical procedures, which completely cleanse the periodontium, work very effectively for individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and moderate/severe periodontal disease.

Scaling and root planning can be used both as a preventative measure and a stand-alone treatment. These procedures are performed as a preventative measure for a periodontitis sufferer.

  • Scaling: This procedure is usually performed with special dental instruments and may include an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool removes calculus and plaque from the crown and root surfaces. In many cases, the scaling device has an irrigation process that can also deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums that can help reduce oral bacteria.
  • Root Planing: This procedure is a specific treatment that removes cementum and surface dentin embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins, and tartar. The root of the tooth is smoothed to promote good healing. Having clean, smooth root surfaces helps bacteria easily colonize in the future. The gum pockets may be treated with antibiotics following these deep cleaning procedures. This will soothe irritation and help the gum tissues to heal quickly.

Discomfort can vary after root planing, but one can expect it to be tender afterward since it's usually in a deeper region under the gums. The teeth themselves can become a bit more sensitive to temperature, and bleeding might occur for a little while.

Over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen work very well to alleviate discomfort. Brushing and flossing can be done more gently to avoid aggravating any bruised or tender gum areas. Your dentist may recommend salt water or chlorhexidine rinses.

Generally, though, as health returns to your gums, sensitivity and soreness tend to resolve. Remember, though, if diagnosed with periodontal disease, you did not get there overnight, and we cannot treat it overnight. If you are faithful with your home care, it usually will resolve. Successful treatment is 70% what you do at home to treat the disease and 30% when you come in for treatments. Left alone, it will only get worse. If you go through the non-surgical therapy and do not continue with the maintenance therapy, the disease will return.

What are the benefits & risks of Scaling and Root Planing?

  • Disease prevention: The oral bacteria that cause periodontal infections can travel via the bloodstream to other body parts. Research has shown that lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal bacteria. Scaling and root planning remove bacteria and halts periodontal disease from progressing, thus preventing the bacteria from traveling to other parts of the body.
  • Tooth protection: When gum pockets exceed 3mm in-depth, there is a greater risk of periodontal disease. As pockets deepen, they tend to house more colonies of dangerous bacteria. Eventually, a chronic inflammatory response by the body destroys gingival and bone tissue, which may lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the developed world.
  • Aesthetic effects: Scaling and root planing help remove tartar and plaque from the teeth below the gumline. As a bonus, if superficial stains are present on the teeth, they will be released in the scaling and root planning procedure.
  • Better breath: One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is halitosis (bad breath). Food particles and bacteria can cause a persistent foul odor in the oral cavity, alleviated with cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing.

Consult with our experienced Doctors

JNU is home to some of the most eminent doctors in the world, most of whom are pioneers in their respective arenas and are renowned for developing innovative and revolutionary procedures