Scaling & Root Planing

The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. 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. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or a preventative measure. They are commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and moderate-to-severe periodontal disease.

What does scaling and root planing entail?

Dr. Harley Williams 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, we may recommend scaling and root planing. In some cases, a local anesthesia may be used to maximize your comfort 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 just below the gum line, and slightly onto the root. Scaling can be performed with both hand instruments and a special dental tool called an ultrasonic 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 on the root in the future.

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. 

When very deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Dr. Harley Williams to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar without further treatment. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these types of deep pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to eliminate or greatly reduce the pocket depths, and to facilitate the restoration of periodontal health.

Benefits of Scaling & Root Planing Treatment

If treatment is successful, scaling and root planing may have many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent further 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 remove bacteria that cause these conditions.

Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against further supporting bone loss, and eventual 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 leads 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 also be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.