Scaling & Root Planing

The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning including scaling or root planing. The objective of this non-surgical procedure is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and calculus (tartar) which cause gingival inflammation and periodontal disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment or a preventative measure. It is commonly preformed in cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease.

What do the procedures entail?

Dr. Benedon will only perform scaling and root planing after a thorough periodontal examination and x-rays. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Dr. Benedon may recommend scaling and root planing. In most cases local anesthesia is used to enhance patient comfort.

  • Scaling:
    When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that has attached 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 instruments and 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 rough 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.

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An animated illustration showing the process of scaling An animated depiction of a root planing 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, Dr. Benedon may place antibiotic (Arestin) directly into the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.

Scaling and Root Planing case


Scaling and Root Planing case


In some cases where deep pockets exist between teeth and gums it may be impossible for Dr. Benedon to completely remove all the plaque and tartar. Patients are unable to keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.

Benefits of Treatment

Through scaling and root planing may have significant periodontal benefits. It can not only help prevent disease, it  can arrest the process and even reverse some of the detrimental effects.  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 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 these pockets and eventually cause a chronic inflammatory response by the body that destroys 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 be removed during scaling and planing adding an extra bonus to the procedure.