Scaling & Root Planing

Scaling and Root Planing Overview

For a brief narrated overview of the scaling and root planing, please click the image below. It will launch our educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about scaling and root planing.

Scaling and Root Planing Overview

The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling and root planing. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing is commonly performed on cases of moderate-to-severe periodontal disease.

What does scaling and root planing entail?

Dr. Herriges will only recommend scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of the mouth, which may include taking x-rays and visually examining the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Dr. Herriges may recommend scaling and root planing. 

  • Scaling and Root Planing:
    When scaling and root planing is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Typically, local anesthesia will be used during the procedure.  The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future. This treatment is usually performed by one of our experienced dental hygienists.  Typically, one quadrant is treated at a time, so you may need up to four appointments, ranging from 1 to 1.5 hours per appointment.

When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for us to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may still be needed to further improve periodontal health after scaling and root planing.