Scaling and Root Planning

Scaling and Root Planning, also known as conventional periodontal therapy, non-surgical periodontal therapy, or deep cleaning, is a procedure involving removal of dental plaque and calculus (scaling or debridement) and then smoothing, or planning, of the (exposed) surfaces of the roots, removing cementum or dentine that is impregnated with calculus, toxins, or microorganisms, the etiologic agents that cause inflammation.

If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gum line, a professional cleaning should do. If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, however, scaling and root planning may be needed. This deep cleaning has two parts. Scaling is when your dentist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gumline, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. Your dentist will then begin root planning, smoothing out your teeth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth. Scaling and root planning may take more than one visit to complete and may require a local anesthetic.

After a deep cleaning, you may have pain for a day or two and teeth sensitivity for up to a week. Your gums also may be swollen, feel tender and bleed. To prevent infection, control pain or help you heal, your dentist may prescribe a pill or mouth rinse. Your dentist may also insert medication (subantimicrobial-dose doxycycline) directly into the pocket that was cleaned.