Scaling and root planing is a common procedure performed by dentists to treat advanced stages of gum disease, or gingivitis. Gum disease creates periodontal pockets, which form due to a tartar build-up at the gum line. These pockets, containing both bacteria and tartar, accumulate and cause the gums to recede. A procedure known as scaling and root planing is a form of periodontal therapy involving a deep cleaning which does not involve surgical treatment.
During the procedure, an instrument known as a scaler or curette is used to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth. Harmful bacteria is also removed in the process to prevent further infection. Then, the smoothing of the surface of the roots, also known as planing, is completed. This promotes healing and prevents bacteria from flourishing. Ultrasonic instruments may also be used to perform the scaling and root planing. These instruments are able to remove the bacteria upon contact.
Scaling and root planing is a relatively painless experience. Your periodontist or hygienist will numb the gums and roots in the area with a local anesthetic to insure minimal discomfort. Immediately following the procedure, you may experience some tenderness in the areas which were cleaned. Aside from this, with regular brushing and flossing, your gums should return to normal quickly. Thorough, daily oral hygiene is essential to preventing the progress of gum disease.