Periodontal Scaling & Root Planing

Scaling & Root Planing in Oklahoma City, OKScaling & Root Planing in Oklahoma City, OK

What is Scaling and Root Planing?

The objective of scaling and root planing is to remove etiologic agents which cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone.  Common etiologic agents removed by this conventional periodontal therapy include dental plaque and tartar (calculus).

These non-surgical procedures which completely cleanse the periodontium, work very effectively for individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and moderate/severe periodontal disease.

Reasons for scaling and root planing

Scaling and root planing can be used both as a preventative measure and as a stand-alone treatment. These procedures are performed as a preventative measure for a periodontitis sufferer.

Here are some reasons why these dental procedures may be necessary:

Disease prevention – The oral bacteria which cause periodontal infections can travel via the bloodstream to other parts of the body.  Research has shown that lung infections and heart disease have been linked to periodontal bacteria.  Scaling and root planing are important dental procedures commonly performed by dentists to treat periodontal disease (gum disease). Here are the key reasons why these procedures are necessary:

  1. Removal of Plaque and Tartar: Scaling involves the removal of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the teeth and below the gumline. Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that can cause gum disease if not removed.
  2. Treating Gum Disease: Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar. It can lead to inflamed and bleeding gums, and if left untreated, can progress to more serious conditions like periodontitis, which can damage the bones and tissues supporting the teeth.
  3. Preventing Tooth Loss: Advanced gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Scaling and root planing can help prevent this by treating the infection and inflammation before they cause irreversible damage to the teeth and jawbone.
  4. Smoothing Root Surfaces: Root planing smooths the root surfaces of the teeth, removing bacterial toxins. This helps the gums reattach to the teeth, reduces pocket depth (the space between the gum and the tooth), and facilitates healing.
  5. Halting Disease Progression: These procedures can halt the progression of gum disease, preventing it from developing into more severe forms that are harder to treat and can lead to more serious health issues.
  6. Improving Overall Health: Gum disease has been linked to other health problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Treating gum disease through scaling and root planing can contribute to overall better health.
  7. Improving Breath and Oral Health: Scaling and root planing can also improve bad breath (halitosis) caused by the bacteria in plaque and tartar, leading to a healthier and more pleasant oral environment.

In summary, scaling and root planing are essential for maintaining oral health, preventing tooth loss, and potentially improving overall health by treating and managing gum disease.

What do Scaling and Root Planing Treatments Involve?

Scaling and root planing treatments are only performed after a thorough examination of the mouth.  The dentist will take X-rays, conduct visual examinations and make a diagnosis before recommending or beginning these procedures.

Depending on the current condition of the gums, the amount of calculus (tartar) present, the depth of the pockets and the progression of the periodontitis, local anesthetic may be used.

Scaling – This procedure is usually performed with special dental instruments and may include an ultrasonic scaling tool.  The scaling tool removes calculus and plaque from the surface of the crown and root surfaces.  In many cases, the scaling tool includes an irrigation process that can also be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums that can help reduce oral bacteria.

Root Planing – This procedure is a specific treatment which serves to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar.  The root of the tooth is literally smoothed in order to promote good healing. Having clean, smooth root surfaces helps bacteria from easily colonizing in future.

Following these deep cleaning procedures, the gum pockets may be treated with antibiotics.  This will soothe irritation and help the gum tissues to heal quickly.


During the next appointment, the dentist or hygienist will thoroughly examine the gums again to see how well the pockets have healed.  If the gum pockets still measure more than 3mm in depth, additional and more intensive treatments may be recommended.


If you have any concerns or questions about scaling and root planing, or periodontal disease, please contact us.

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