What is Scaling and Root Planing? | Blog

Many patients in our office require a deep cleaning, also known as Scaling and Root Planing. Once these words are mentioned patients tend to become alarmed. The procedure is non-surgical and does not require any cutting or drilling. When a patient is diagnosed with the first stage of gum disease (gingivitis) their hygienist might recommend a deep cleaning because a regular cleaning only involves scraping plaque of the teeth. With gingivitis your hygienist wants to remove the infection, promote healthy gum re-attachment and stop the gum infection from progressing into periodontitis (the second more aggressive stage of the disease). This is why a deep cleaning requires a more in the gums cleaning, specifically to purge the bacterial infection where your toothbrush and floss cannot reach.


The Scaling and Root Planing Procedure

  • During the exam process your dentist and hygienist will work together to give you a thorough evaluation which will include radiographs (which will inform the dentist of any bone loss or infection). Your hygienist will also probe your gum tissue to check the depth of your periodontal pocketing around your teeth.
  • After evaluating your disease, your hygienist or dentist will apply a local anesthetic to keep your gums numb and keep you comfortable during your procedure.
  • Next is the scaling part of the procedure. This will involve the removal of tartar and plaque from all of your teeth and around the gum lining.
  • The next step is the root planing. This will involve using a metal instrument to clean deep inside your gum line, removing any plaque that has moved deep into the gums and tooth root. During the planning process your hygienist will smooth out any rough areas on the enamel damaged by the infection. 
  • Your hygienist most likely will recommend a follow up to re-evaluate the gum tissue to check the healing of your infection.



  1. Use a non-aspirin pain medication, Ibuprofen if needed
  2. Go ahead brush and floss your teeth as normal.
  3. Use a warm salt water rinse if needed.


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