Scaling or root planing

What is it?

When plaque hardens on teeth, it turns into tartar also known as calculus. Once it's there, it cannot be removed by brushing alone and must be removed by a health care professional.

Bacteria lives in plaque and feeds on the sugars you eat and drink. This bacteria releases toxins that cause gingivitis which is infected, red, swollen and bleeding gums. Gingivitis eventually leads to gum disease if plaque is not removed from your teeth. If plaque has built up on teeth and gum disease is present, the gums begin to peel away from the tooth, leaving pockets or spaces for tartar and bacteria to get caught in.

If a patient has gum disease, this plaque build-up has already made its way underneath the gum tissue, along the tooth root. This makes it nearly impossible to access and remove bacteria with a regular toothbrush. This is when a deep cleaning is recommended.

Scaling and root planing

This deep cleaning is called periodontal cleaning and the treatment is known as scaling and root planing.

Scaling and root planing is where a dental hygienist removes the plaque and tartar build up on your teeth, but goes one step further. Unlike a typical cleaning, a periodontal cleaning means that the hygienist will especially target plaque  trapped in the area underneath your gums, along the tooth root.

This procedure generally takes more time than a typical cleaning, so your dental hygienist may schedule extra time or clean a quarter or half of your mouth at a time.

This procedure can either be done with a manual scraping instrument or helped with the use of an ultrasonic tool. An ultrasonic tool is a tiny vibrating wand that breaks up the plaque.

For added comfort, your dental hygienist may also use a local anesthetic during the procedure. The local anesthetic will “numb” the area to make the treatment more comfortable for you.


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Root Planing

Why should I get a deep cleaning?

For people with moderate to severe gum disease, a deep cleaning will be recommended by either your dentist or hygienist to remove that plaque and bacteria trapped under your gums. For some patients with early stages of gum disease, a deep cleaning may be enough to effectively treat their gum disease. However, for those with more advanced cases, a deep cleaning may be performed first, before a surgery.

If a deep cleaning is recommended, it is important to get this treatment done if you want to stop the gum disease from getting worse. If the gum disease does get worse, the bone supporting your teeth is destroyed and the teeth will begin to shift, loosen and fall out.

Our goal, as dental care professionals, is to control any infection that may be present, to stop the progression of disease, and to reverse as much of the damaging effects of gum disease as possible.


Although there are a few risks associated with scaling and root planing, we would still recommend that this treatment be done in order to prevent other dental issues.

If the treatment is successful, the inflammation associated with your gum disease will go away. However, this can mean that gums may shrink and recede following the procedure. The more severe the initial inflammation, the more gum recession can occur. When gums recede, teeth can also become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

Although some discomfort following scaling and root planing is normal, some rare complications can include excessive pain, bleeding and swelling.

Some people may have existing conditions that increase their risk of developing a severe infection. If this is the case, you may be required to take antibiotics after the procedure to prevent issues with existing conditions. For instance, if you have certain heart problems, an impaired immune system, have had major surgeries or have artificial body parts, such as a heart valve or hip.

Call or come in and speak with a Patient Care Specialist to learn more about scaling and root planing at Oasispark Dental.

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At Oasispark Dental we have a variety of services to satisfy your needs. The six major treatment areas are: