Scaling and Root Planing: What to Expect

Scaling and Root Planing: What to Expect

If you have missed a few dental cleaning appointments, or if you are predisposed to gum disease, you may need a special deep cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing. Although it sounds ominous, this procedure is common and relatively simple. Scaling uses specialized tools to clean out plaque and tartar from beneath the gums. Root planing cleans and smooths the tooth roots, giving the gums a clean and healthy place to reattach themselves.

At every comprehensive oral exam, we check the depths of the pockets between your teeth and gums with a small probe. If your mouth is healthy, the pockets will be no more than 3 millimeters deep. This is the depth to which toothbrushes and dental floss can reach, as well as regular dental cleaning instruments.

Scaling and root planing may be recommended if your pockets are deeper than 3 millimeters. Pockets of 3 millimeters to 6 millimeters indicate the earliest stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. Pockets deeper than 6 millimeters indicate advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, which can damage the bone.


What to Expect


We will thoroughly numb your mouth with a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure. We will then use a variety of manual, electric, and ultrasonic tools to carefully remove all plaque and tartar from below the gum line. We may also prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse for you to use for several days or weeks. In most cases, the pockets will reduce to normal levels once they are clean and healthy, halting and reversing gum disease.

When you have had gum disease, it is likely to recur. Most people need regular dental cleanings every six months, but you will need a cleaning every three months. In conjunction with scrupulous home dental care, we can generally prevent gum disease from coming back. You will not need another scaling and root planing unless your deep pockets return.

Many people are afraid of scaling and root planing, but it is nothing more than a simple, common, deep cleaning for people with gum disease. If you have not had a cleaning in awhile, come in for a complete oral exam. Gum disease will progress without proper treatment, eventually putting your teeth at risk and raising your chances of developing a serious systemic illness. With scaling and root planing, we can stop gum disease and reverse its effects.

After the procedure, you can expect to have a little sensitivity for a few days.  This is because the root surface is now clean and your body is working to heal. Once it does, the sensitivity should go away.  Many times you will also notice less bleeding when flossing and brushing after the procedure is completed.


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Holzinger Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is a father-daughter practice serving patients in Middletown and New Britain, CT. If you are seeking compassionate dental care from a team that treats each patient as an individual, contact us today at 860-347-8457 (Middletown) or 860-224-0433 (New Britain) to schedule your first appointment.