When Is Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing Necessary? An In-Depth Guide To Knowing The Signs.

Feb 17, 2023 | Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs when the tissues around your teeth become infected due to plaque buildup. When left untreated, your gums can become inflamed, causing discomfort and even tooth loss. To prevent further harm from occurring, your dentist may suggest periodontal scaling and root planing. This procedure helps remove plaque build-up from beneath the gum line and restore healthy tissue to the affected area. Read on to learn more about this vital treatment and when it’s necessary for your oral health.

What are Periodontal Scaling and Root planning?

Periodontal scaling and root planing (also referred to as a deep clean) are two procedures used to treat gum disease. Scaling involves the removal of plaque, tartar, and bacteria from your teeth, both above and below the gum line. Root planing is then done to smooth the surface of the tooth roots so that new tissue can attach securely once healing begins.

Why is it Necessary?

Periodontal scaling and root planing may be necessary if you have advanced gum disease or have experienced bone loss as a result of untreated inflammation. It’s also recommended if you regularly experience pain when brushing or flossing, as these are strong indicators of gum disease. If your dentist notices any pockets between your teeth and gums that measure more than three millimeters deep, a deep clean may be recommended.

What Happens During the Procedure?

Prior to the procedure, a local anesthetic will be applied to ensure you don’t feel any discomfort during the scaling and root planing process. An ultrasonic device is then used to remove plaque and tartar from each tooth surface, which is followed by manual cleaning with hand scalers in hard-to-reach areas. Root planing is then done to smooth out any rough spots on the tooth roots. Afterward, your periodontist may apply antibiotics directly to the affected area to help prevent further infection.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Side effects of periodontal scaling and root planing are minimal. You may experience temporary sensitivity in the treated area, as well as slight bleeding or tenderness that can last for a few days. During this time, you should be sure to practice good oral hygiene and avoid foods that are too hot or cold.


Periodontal scaling and root planing are important treatments for those suffering from advanced gum disease. While it may cause some discomfort after the procedure, it’s necessary to protect your gums from further inflammation and tooth loss. With proper care afterward, you can ensure that your gums remain healthy for years to come.


1. How often do I need a periodontal scaling and root planing?

Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you get a deep clean every three to four years. However, if you have advanced gum disease or your dentist notices any pockets between your teeth and gums, you may need the procedure more frequently.

2. Is periodontal scaling and root planing covered by insurance?

Yes, most dental insurance plans will cover at least part of the cost of this treatment. Be sure to check with your insurer for exact details about your coverage.

3. Are there any alternatives to periodontal scaling and root planing?

If your gum disease is in the early stages and you practice good oral hygiene, your dentist may recommend non-surgical therapies such as antibiotics, antiseptics, or topical agents. However, these treatments aren’t recommended for more advanced cases of gum disease and may not be covered by insurance.

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