Deep Scaling and Root Planing

When plaque and tartar are left on the teeth, bacteria thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums, making them bleed more easily, like when you’re brushing your teeth or eating. This is the early stage of gum disease (gingivitis).

If gingivitis not treated, the inflammation will work its way down towards the roots of the tooth, causing a “periodontal pocket”. The bacteria in that pocket can cause more damage to your bone and gums. Eventually, your teeth will become loose due to bone loss. The dentist or hygienist checks the depth of these pockets at your appointment. The deeper the pocket, the more bacteria, infection, and bone loss you have.

A deep scaling and root planing helps stop periodontal disease from progressing. It gets rid of the bacteria in the pocket and provides the necessary conditions for healing to occur, and for those periodontal pockets to reduce.

What is a deep scaling and root planing? How is it different from an ordinary cleaning?

A regular cleaning, or prophylaxis, removes plaque and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth (i.e., the part of the tooth above the gums). A deep scaling and root planing cleans below the gums, where plaque and tartar deposits have formed below the gumline due to deep bone pockets. A deep scaling and root planing cleans and smoothes the root surfaces and sterilizes with a laser. A root-planed surface free of bacteria will allow gum tissues to heal and reattach to it.

A deep scaling and root planing of the entire mouth (all four quadrants) takes approximately two hours. To make the process comfortable, we use a numbing agent that is injected gently into the gum pockets. It is much less invasive than a traditional injected anesthetic, does not numb the lips and tongue, and wears off more quickly.

What can I expect afterward?

You can expect the area to be a little sore for the next few days, plus some sensitivity to temperature. The hygienist will provide you with detailed take-home instructions after your appointment. One of the most important things to do is to oil pulling twice a day for a week after your deep scaling and root planing. You will then need to return in 4 weeks for the next step of your treatment: a prophylaxis and follow-up evaluation of your teeth and gums.