Scaling is the removal of plaque, bacteria and food debris from the teeth in patients with healthy gums or gingivitis. At routine dental cleanings, the teeth are scaled and polished. Scaling and root planing is the removal of plaque, bacteria and food debris from the roots of the teeth in patients with periodontitis. Scaling and root planing is one of the most effective ways to treat periodontal disease to prevent it from progressing to tooth loss.
Often, the gums are anesthetized with a local numbing agent before scaling and root planing. Usually the dental hygienist may apply this directly at the gumline, rather than using an injection to numb the area.
In some cases, an antibiotic powder may be placed between the root and the gums once the scaling and root planing has been completed. This will allow for more complete healing.
Occasionally, some periodontal pockets do not resolve from scaling and root planing. In these cases, we recommend a consult with a Periodontist to evaluate other treatment options.