Deep Teeth Cleaning / Scaling and Root Planing

Periodontal disease is a silent and very serious condition. Because pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease and it progresses slowly, it is often ignored. It is important to get this disease under control for the long-term health of your teeth. Periodontal therapy is necessary to arrest the progression of gum disease.

The most common form of periodontal therapy, which is also a more conservative approach, is non-surgical treatment. Sometimes referred to as a “deep cleaning,” this non-surgical treatment, or “scaling and root planing” is performed on your teeth and gums (that have a periodontal probing depth of 4 millimeters or more) using local anesthesia. Scaling and root planing is used to remove plaque and tartar that attaches to tooth surfaces below the gum line along the roots.

An animated illustration showing the process of scaling


When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.

An animated depiction of a root planing procedure

Root Planing:

Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future.

After scaling and root planing, ARESTIN® (localized antibiotic) may be placed in the periodontal pockets to help control the growth of bacteria that cause periodontitis and to encourage normal healing. It is important to note that scaling and root planing does not guarantee complete healing of all infected pocket areas. Some particular pocket areas may need to be retreated in order to obtain optimal results.

Benefits Of Treatment

  • One benefit of scaling and root planing is that it can help prevent disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the bloodstream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases as well as stroke and osteoporosis. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.
  • Another benefit of treatment is protecting against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3 millimeters in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This leads to tooth loss.
  • Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more esthetically pleasing and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity.


For more information concerning periodontal (gum) disease and its treatment, go to (The American Academy of Periodontology)

For more information concerning after care go to Home Instructions for After Scaling and Root Planing