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Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and Root Planing Gum Disease treatment at Martin Periodontics Scaling and root planing is a special type of treatment that goes deeper below the gumline to remove contaminated debris and bacteria, most often performed on patients with active periodontitis.

This seems to be a procedure that causes much confusion for patients trying to understand the difference between "just a cleaning" and scaling and root planing, and the need/reason for this procedure.

A professional polishing, or prophy, removes only the soft sticky plaque and hard crusty calculus that is above the gumline on the crown of the tooth and just slightly below the gumline. Scaling and root planing is done to remove soft sticky plaque and hard crusty calculus that is well below the gumline on root surfaces. It is a method of treating gum disease when pockets formed around the teeth have a measurement of greater than 3 mm and there is evidence of bleeding and tissue attachment loss.


Scaling is a procedure that meticulously removes contaminated biofilm, plaque, calculus, microorganisms and toxins from around the gumline down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket, in order to obtain a healing response.


Root planing involves smoothing the root surfaces of your teeth with thin instruments so gum tissue can more firmly reattach to roots that are clean and smooth, to prevent tooth loss and sensitivity problems. This procedure makes it more difficult for plaque, calculus and bacteria to accumulate along these root surfaces.

Because this procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning, your mouth may be numbed. The cleaning may take approximately two visits to complete. Depending on the extent of the disease, you may need one or more quadrants of the mouth to be treated with scaling and root planing.


•  To control the growth of harmful bacteria.
•  Help the pocket wall reattach firmly to the clean root surface.
•  Prevent further bleeding of the gums from disease.
•  Reduce inflammation.
•  Reduce discomfort.
•  Prevent bone loss.
•  Prevent gum disease related tooth loss.
•  Reduce systemic disease.


Be careful not to bite or chew your lip, cheek or tongue while they are numb. Avoid chewing for 2 hours after this procedure or until numbness has worn off. Keep your fingers and tongue away from the areas that have been treated. Take Tylenol or ibuprofen according to directions on the manufacturers label for one to two days to help with the discomfort.

You may be prescribed an oral rinse or gel to reduce oral bacteria and enhance healing. Do not smoke or chew tobacco for 72 hours after the procedure to allow for healing. Gently brush and floss your teeth after each meal. How you care for your teeth and gums at home after treatment is critical to reducing the risk of recurring periodontal disease.


At the completion of your scaling and root planing, you will be scheduled for a re-evaluation appointment after some weeks. During this time in-between, your gums will continue to improve and heal now that the plaque bacteria and calculus have been removed. When you return for your re-evaluation, the condition of your gums will be examined, and your gum pockets will be measured again to check for healthy pocket measurements. If your periodontist notes that there are certain areas where bleeding, inflammation, or deep gum pockets persist, then he or she will review what the next steps are to help you stop the disease process and achieve total periodontal health.
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