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Scaling & Root Planing | United Concordia

Common Dental Questions

Defining Scaling & Root Planing



What is scaling and root planing?



Scaling and root planing is the removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces, both above and below the gum line.

  • Plaque—a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth
  • Calculus—also called tartar, forms as plaque hardens over time, and cannot be removed simply by brushing the teeth


How is scaling and root planing different from a regular cleaning?

Scaling and root planing is used to treat periodontal (gum) disease. It is different from the cleaning performed during a routine visit to the dentist, which focuses on the part of the tooth that is above the gumline. Scaling and root planing treats both the tooth crown and the tooth root, which extends below the gum line and into the bone. That is why scaling and root planing is sometimes called “deep cleaning.” 


What is done during the procedure?

During scaling and root planing, plaque, calculus and diseased root surfaces are removed. The rough surface of the tooth root is then filed smooth (planing) so bacteria cannot attach to it as easily. Dentists often use local anesthesia to numb the gums before performing scaling and root planing.  


How can I avoid scaling and root planing?

Keep your mouth healthy! Proper brushing and flossing every day will help prevent the buildup of plaque and calculus on tooth surfaces. But even with good at-home care, it can be very difficult to keep teeth completely free of plaque and calculus. Regular visits to a dentist are important. A professional cleaning will remove any build-up before it can lead to more serious dental problems like periodontal disease.