Scaling and root planing

What happens during scaling and root planing?

A routine professional clean involves scaling teeth and the gumline to remove plaque and tartar (calculus), polishing to remove stains and smooth the tooth’s surface. This is usually done using a combination of ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments. 

However, if you have moderate to severe gum disease, you may need another type of cleaning, called scaling and root planning. This is also known as deep cleaning, which is a non-surgical procedure. The dentist will scale above and below the gumline thoroughly to remove the plaque and tartar, followed by smoothing out your teeth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth.  This type of deep clean may require more than one visit to complete and usually requires a local anaesthetic to minimize discomfort. 

At a follow up visit, your dentist will want to check on the healing of your gums and the good news is that in most cases, red or swollen gum tissue becomes firm and pink again, bleeding is reduced or eliminated and gum pockets get smaller. If your gum tissue has responded well and remains stable, you may not need any further treatment. 

More advanced gum disease may require surgical intervention by a gum specialist (periodontist). However, your scaling and root planing treatment often lessens the amount of surgery you need. 

Regular maintenance

The key to long term gum health and to minimise relapse of gum disease is regular scheduled maintenance visits with your dentist. This interval could vary between every 3-6 months depending on each individual’s disease status. These gum maintenance visits consist of routine cleanings and careful examination of your gum tissue, as well as measurement of your gum spaces to check for status of gum health. 

Good dental care at home is essential to help keep gum disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and see your dentist regularly. 

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