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Scaling & Root Planing

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 aetiologic 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 preventive measure. They are commonly preformed on cases of periodontal disease.

What do the proedures entail?

Drs. Hinckfuss, McGregor, Mitchell, Chin 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 calculus present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Drs. Hinckfuss, McGregor, Mitchell or Chin may recommend scaling and root planing. In most cases, a local anesthestic 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 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.


Planing: Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and calculus. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing 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 produce toxins and cause periodontitis. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing or may be done in patients who have aggressive disease.

When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, or if defects are present in the root surfaces of the teeth it may be difficult for the periodontist to thoroughly remove the plaque and calculus. In many of these cases, surgery may be needed to remove the difficult to access sites to restore periodontal health.

Benefits of Treatment

If treatment is successful, scaling and planing may have many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent disease. Research has shown that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the bloodstream (translocate) and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that place you at risk of developing these conditions.

Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for bacterial recolonisation of the site increases and periodontal disease may progress. Failing to control this may lead to tooth loss.

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

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