What is Scaling and Root Planing?
Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) is a restorative dental procedure involving the removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) stuck above and below the gumline.
The procedure is necessary after a patient’s gums, bones, and surrounding tissues become damaged due to periodontal disease (periodontitis).
Overview: What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a severe inflammatory disease that affects the gums, bones, and surrounding tissues in the oral cavity.
Periodontal disease is initiated by the long-term buildup of dental plaque and calculus.
When teeth aren’t cleaned properly at home twice a day, and professionally at least twice a year by a dental professional, plaque is not removed completely.
Over time, the plaque hardens into tartar and bacteria spread to the gums. This process leads to gingivitis (early gum disease) and eventually periodontitis.
When the gums become irritated, they separate from the teeth and deep spaces form. These spaces are called “periodontal pockets.” The tartar is typically located beneath the gums (subgingival), on the base of teeth, between the gums, and on the roots of teeth.
Risk Factors & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The most common risk factors associated with periodontitis include:
- Poor brushing and flossing habits, which leads to plaque and tartar buildup
- Smoking or chewing tobacco long-term
- Poor nutrition, such as sugary foods and drinks
- Some blood pressure, heart disease, cardiovascular, bacterial pneumonia, seizure, or immunosuppressant medications
- Crooked teeth, which makes the plaque and calculus more difficult to remove
- Family history of periodontitis
- Long-term stress, which causes inflammation
Symptoms of periodontitis range from mild to extreme and can include:
- Red and swollen gums
- Inflammation below or around the gums
- Gums that bleed on probing (such as flossing)
- Loose teeth or gums that pull away from the teeth
- Bad breath, even after brushing
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Sudden teeth misalignment or an incorrect bite
Scaling and Root Planing Procedure: Step-By-Step
Scaling and root planing involves the removal of plaque, hardened tartar (calculus), and stains from a patient’s teeth and tooth roots. The cost of scaling and root planing (deep cleanings) depends on the dentist’s location and whether or not the patient has insurance.