Scaling and Root Planing

The goal of scaling and root planing (sometimes referred to as deep cleaning) is to remove the etiologic agents (dental plaque and calculus) that cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone. Periodontal scaling and root planing have long been established as effective treatments for people who suffer from various forms of periodontal disease.

There is some confusion about how a scaling and root planing differs from a regular dental cleaning. This is a non-surgical periodontal treatment that thoroughly cleans the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from deep periodontal pockets, and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins.

This is followed by adjunctive therapy, such as local delivery of antimicrobials and host modulation therapy. The need for adjunctive therapy is tailored to the patient’s individual needs.

Goals of scaling and root planing:

  • Direct removal of bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar)
  • Direct removal of pathogenic bacteria; scaling and root planing results in a significant reduction of the bacteria associated with periodontal disease, and encourages the repopulation of the “good” bacteria associated with health
  • Reduction in the need for the body’s immune response to fight off infection, thereby decreasing the inflammatory cells responsible for tissue and bone damage observed in gingivitis and periodontitis
  • Decrease in gingival inflammation
  • Reattachment of gingival tissue to the tooth after root planing, which results in reducing pocket depth

To sustain periodontal health, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy. The goal of maintenance therapy is to prevent the reappearance and advance of periodontal disease.