Scaling and Root Planing

  • Oct 14 2019

What is the purpose of scaling and root planing?

Practicing good oral hygiene accomplishes more than keeping our teeth nice and white and getting rid of “morning breath”. When we neglect consistent brushing and flossing, we open the door for the development of gingivitis and periodontitis, which are the most common types of periodontal disease. With less serious gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen and may bleed. If the infection in the gums is allowed to worsen, the result is likely to be actual damage to the gums, bone and eventual tooth loss. This is full-blown periodontitis.

Like it or not, there will always be bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria feed on the residue of carbohydrates left on the teeth after eating and form a coating, or film, which is called plaque. By maintaining a consistent routine of proper brushing and flossing, we can remove a great deal of the plaque but not all of it. What is missed in those hard to reach areas between teeth, under the gums and around the roots is then able to harden into tartar.

Treating and Preventing Periodontal Disease with Scaling and Root Planing

You may know the procedure as the deep cleaning that your dentist recommends when there is evidence of a buildup of plaque and tartar that cannot be successfully removed with regular cleaning. The main parts of the deep cleaning are scaling and root planing and they are used to prevent damage to the gums and teeth, which, if left untreated, would likely lead to the necessity for surgery.


There are two types of dental scaling that are typically used, and they are differentiated based on the type of tools. Both methods remove the scale (plaque) from the surface of the teeth. One uses hand-held instruments, such as a scaler and curette, to manually remove the buildup of plaque and tartar, while the other method uses ultrasonic instruments. The ultrasonic scaler has a rapidly-vibrating tip that chips the tartar off, and, at the same time, emits a stream of water to clean the area and keep the tip cool.

Root planing

Once the scaling process has removed as much of the plaque and tartar as possible, it is time for root planing. The roots of the teeth usually have a rougher surface, which makes it much easier for bacteria to find a place to attach. By smoothing (planing) these rough areas on the roots, it makes it less likely for infection to set in again in these areas that are the hardest to keep clean.
Everyone wants to have a nice smile. It makes a huge difference in self-confidence and our success in social interactions. But, as important as appearance is, there is far more to maintaining healthy gums and teeth. Besides the possibility of tooth loss and bone damage, the periodontal disease that results from allowing plaque and tartar to buildup can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

The good news is that, if caught early, treatment is not only effective but also far less painful and expensive than if the infection is allowed to progress. Of course, the best option is to prevent infection in the first place and that starts with proper dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.

Contact Forest Hills Dentistry Today

If you are experiencing any issues or have questions about any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priority.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.

Categories: Periodontics