Scaling & Root Planing (Deep Cleaning)

Periodontist Campbell CA

The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing (Which is also called deep cleaning). The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease as they may be beneath your gum line.  When you get a regular cleaning or prophylaxis, your hygienist only cleans above the gum line.  Scaling and root planing is an effective way to remove the bacteria that is festering beneath your gum line that causes bone loss and inflammation.  They are commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease and can either be a stand alone treatment or a precursor to more advanced periodontal treatment.

What do the procedures entail?

A skilled professional at the Ueno Center will only perform 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, one of the doctors may recommend scaling and root planing. In some cases, a local anesthesia may be used during the procedure.

  • Scaling:
    When scaling 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. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called a piezo scaling tool. The scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.
  • Root Planing:
    Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.

An animated illustrion showing the process of scaling An animated depiction of a root planning procedure

Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, your doctor or hygienist may place antibiotic fibers in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.

When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Dr. Ueno, Dr. Chung or Dr. Litch to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.

Benefits of Treatment

If treatment is successful, scaling and planing has many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent systemic disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing removes bacteria that causes these conditions.

Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This can lead to tooth loss.

Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.