The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment or a preventative measure and is commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and early to moderate periodontal disease.


Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Dr. Phillips may recommend scaling and root planing, with or without local anesthesia.

When scaling is performed, plaque and calculus are removed not only above the gumline, but it especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root where tooth brushing and flossing cannot reach. Scaling is best performed with a special dental tools called curettes and an ultrasonic scaling tool which irrigates the site.

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 again in the future.


If treatment is successful, scaling and root planing may have many periodontal benefits including prevention of systemic disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can enter the blood stream and travel to affect other organ systems of the body including the heart, brain, lungs, pancreas and even joint replacement prosthetics. Scaling and root planing can help remove the bacteria that can contribute to the development of systemic inflammation and diseases.

Another benefit of scaling and root planing is preventing tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to colonize, causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body.  If left untreated, this can damage the gum tissue and bone surrounding the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss.

Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more esthetically pleasing by removing the plaque, tartar and superficial stains on the teeth.  The teeth will appear whiter and the gums will become more pink and firm.  In addition, scaling and root planing may help reduce bad breath (halitosis) by removing food particles and bacteria retained in the oral cavity.