When plaque and calculus (hardened plaque) extend under the gum line, they can infect the gums. This is gum disease, which has an early stage (gingivitis) that causes red, swollen gums. Periodontitis, the later stage, causes the gums to pull away from teeth and can result in tissue damage and tooth loss. Luckily, there are treatments for periodontitis, including scaling and root planing.
- Scaling and root planing are non-surgical, deep cleaning treatments for gum disease.
- Scaling and root planing may be the only treatments necessary if periodontitis isn’t too advanced.
- Scaling uses an ultrasonic or manual scaler to scrap away plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line.
- Root planing uses a curette to smooth the tooth root to prevent plaque and calculus buildup and to help the gums reattach to teeth.
- Scaling and root planing often require the use of a local anesthetic to numb the mouth from any discomfort.
- Scaling and root planing is often only performed on only one quadrant or half of the mouth per visit.
- Your gums may feel sensitive in the days following scaling and root planing, so your dentist may prescribe a mouth wash or medication to help.