Root Planing and Scaling: How the Treatment Process Works By Tim Kelly, DMD, PA on December 10, 2014

A woman smiling in her roomDr. Timothy Kelly offers residents of Albuquerque the latest dental care treatments and techniques. This means general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry services that focus on improving the look and health of smiles.

An important part of comprehensive care is performing root planing and root scaling periodically. Let's cover the basics of this treatment right now.

What is root planing and scaling?

Also known as deep cleaning, root planing and scaling refers to the use of scraping instruments to clean the teeth down at the gumline, with a specific focus on removing plaque and tartar in hard to reach places.

While many people think that the terms "scaling" and "planing" are synonymous, the fact is that they are two separate kinds of actions:

  • Root Planing: Root planing is the removal of decayed or compromised tooth structure at the gumline and the subsequent smoothing down of the remaining, healthy tooth structure.
  • Root Scaling: Root scaling is the scraping of plaque and tartar deposits lodged at the gumline with the use of special dental care tools.

Why is root planing and scaling performed?

A deep cleaning will prevent serious issues with tooth decay and gum disease occurring down the road.

Even if you brush and floss regularly, plague and tartar can build up in the pocket between the gumline and the tooth itself. This can be very difficult to remove on your own, and it takes a dental professional to do it right.

How is deep cleaning different from a regular professional cleaning?

A regular professional cleaning basically involves the use of an electric brush to polish the teeth following a thorough flossing. A little scraping may occur, but that's it.

By contrast, root planing and scaling gets into the nooks and crannies where the gums meet the teeth, and helps improve tooth structure in the process.

Ideal Candidates for Root Planing and Scaling

The best candidates for root planing and scaling are people who have issues with plaque buildup or tartar that have not been addressed previously. Many times your dentist will notice these issues during a regular checkup, which is why visiting the dentist every six months is so important.

The Root Planing and Scaling Process

Local anesthetic is used during the deep cleaning process in order to prevent undue pain and discomfort for the patient. Only one-quarter to one-half of the mouth is treated at a time during a deep cleaning session.

During the procedure, which takes roughly an hour through sometimes more, your dentist will carefully scrape away tartar and plaque and smooth out the tooth structure at the gumline.

Patients will experience some tenderness of the gums after treatment. You will be advised to brush and floss gently that evening before you go to bed at night since the gums will be tender.

Why is deep cleaning only performed on part of the mouth?

Only part of the mouth is treated for two reasons: time and convenience.

  • Considerable time is spent working on just one part of the mouth, so you can imagine how long it would take to work on the whole mouth. Multiple visits wind up being more convenient for the patient and the dentist.
  • If local anesthetic is used on the whole mouth, patients will experience issues with speaking and eating throughout the rest of the day. Focusing on just part of the mouth limits the amount of inconvenience patients go through.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Timothy Kelly

To learn more about root planing and scaling as well as your many other options out there for quality dental care, be sure to contact our advanced dental care center today. Dr. Timothy Kelly and the entire team here look forward to your visit and helping you achieve optimal dental health.

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Dr. Timothy M. Kelly

Timothy M. Kelly, DMD, PA

Timothy M. Kelly, DMD, PA, has been in practice in Albuquerque, NM, since 1981. He provides a wide range of cosmetic, restorative, and general dental services, with a special emphasis on the treatment of TMJ disorder. Some of our most popular services include:

To request an appointment with Dr. Kelly, please fill out our online form or call (505) 256-1770.

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"We believe that every patient has infinite worth and should be treated with dignity and respect. We are dedicated to educating, creating awareness, and empowering people to make treatment choices that are consistent with their own beliefs, needs and desires." Dr. Tim Kelly

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