Revitalizing Your Smile: The Comprehensive Guide to Scaling and Root Planing

Learn all about scaling and root planing, including frequency, costs, aftercare, and more. Discover everything you need to know in this expert guide.

Jon Smith

6/23/20239 min read

What is Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is a common dental procedure that is used to treat gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and other tissues surrounding the teeth.

This infection is typically caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth and below the gum line. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems.

Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical treatment for gum disease that involves removing tartar, plaque, and other bacteria from the surfaces of teeth above and below the gum line. The procedure is typically performed by a dental hygienist or dentist using specialized tools that are designed to remove plaque and tartar without damaging the tooth enamel.

During scaling, your dentist or hygienist will use an ultrasonic scaler or hand-held instrument to carefully remove any calculus (hardened plaque) from your teeth above and below your gum line. They’ll then use fine instruments called curettes to scrape away any remaining debris from your tooth roots below the gumline.

The root planing part of this treatment involves smoothing out any rough areas on your tooth roots where bacteria can easily accumulate. Root planing can also help damaged gums reattach themselves more firmly to your teeth by creating smoother surfaces for them to adhere to.

Overall, scaling and root planing is an effective way to treat early signs of periodontal disease before it progresses into more severe stages at which point surgical intervention may be necessary. Gums may bleed during this treatment but proper technique results in no damage being done outside what needs removal.

How Often do You Need Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing, also known as deep cleaning, is a dental procedure that aims to remove stubborn plaque and tartar build-up from the teeth's surface and below the gum line. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that people should undergo tooth scaling and root planing at least once every six months as part of their regular dental check-ups. However, some people may require more frequent cleanings due to various risk factors.

Patients with gingivitis or periodontitis may need scaling and root planing more than twice a year to manage their condition effectively. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial plaque.

If left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis, leading to tooth loss in severe cases. Patients with gum disease may experience symptoms such as bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, bad breath, and pain while chewing.

Additionally, individuals with a history of poor oral hygiene habits or those who smoke are at higher risk for gum disease and should get more frequent teeth scaling and root planing. People who have undergone orthodontic treatment or other dental procedures that make it harder to maintain good oral hygiene may also need deeper cleanings.

It's essential to note that only a dentist or dental hygienist can determine how often you need scaling and root planing based on your medical history and current oral health status. Regular visits to your dentist are crucial in detecting early signs of gum disease before they progress into more severe conditions.

Tooth scaling and root planing are essential preventive measures for maintaining optimal oral health. It's recommended that everyone should undergo this procedure at least twice a year as part of their regular dental check-ups.

However, individuals with a high risk of developing gum disease may require more frequent cleanings to prevent complications like tooth loss in severe cases. Regular visits to the dentist can help detect any early signs of gum disease before they get worse.

How Long Does Scaling and Root Planing Take

Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning procedure that aims to remove plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth and gum line. This procedure is done to prevent the progression of gum disease, such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and bone loss.

One of the things people often ask about the procedure is how long it takes. The time it takes for scaling and root planing varies depending on several factors.

Firstly, it depends on how much plaque and tartar buildup there is in your mouth. If there is a significant amount of build-up, the procedure will take longer since your dentist or dental hygienist will need to spend more time removing it completely.

Secondly, it depends on how many teeth require scaling and root planing. If only one or two teeth need treatment, then the procedure can be completed quickly with minimal discomfort.

Another factor that affects how long scaling and root planing takes is whether you require anesthesia or not. Anesthesia can add additional time to the overall length of your appointment since you'll need to wait for it to take effect before starting the procedure.

If you have other dental issues such as cavities or abscesses that also need treatment during your appointment, this will add extra time to your visit. Your dentist may recommend scheduling separate appointments in this case so that each issue can be treated effectively.

Overall, scaling and root planing typically take between one hour for a simple case and up to two hours for more complex cases involving multiple teeth with significant build-up. Your dentist will give you an estimate of how long the treatment should take during your initial consultation once they've assessed your oral health needs.

Does Scaling and Root Planing Hurt.

When it comes to dental procedures, one of the biggest concerns patients have been whether they will experience any pain. Scaling and root planing is no exception. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help minimize discomfort during and after the procedure.

Firstly, it's important to note that scaling and root planing is typically performed with local anesthesia to numb the area being treated. This helps alleviate any pain or discomfort during the procedure itself.

The level of anesthesia required may vary depending on each patient's individual needs and preferences. It's also common for patients to experience some sensitivity or discomfort following tooth scaling and root planing as the gums heal from deep cleaning.

Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to manage any discomfort. Additionally, your dentist may recommend a prescription mouthwash or gel specifically formulated to help alleviate post-procedure sensitivity.

If you are particularly anxious about experiencing pain during tooth scaling and root planing, talk to your dentist about options for sedation dentistry. Sedation techniques such as nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") can help you relax during the procedure while remaining conscious.

It's worth noting that proper oral hygiene practices following tooth scaling and root planing can also help minimize any potential discomfort. Be sure to follow your dentist's instructions for brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash to keep your gums healthy as they heal.

While some patients may experience minor discomfort during or after scaling and root planing, steps can be taken both by the dentist and patient to minimize this potential issue. With proper care before, during, and after the procedure, most patients should expect a relatively comfortable experience overall.

Scaling and Root Planing Aftercare

is an essential part of maintaining oral health. After the procedure, you will experience some sensitivity and discomfort, so it is crucial to follow the necessary steps to ensure your teeth and gums heal correctly.

One of the most critical aspects of aftercare for scaling and root planing is maintaining good oral hygiene. After the procedure, your dentist or dental hygienist will provide you with instructions on how to care for your teeth properly.

They may recommend that you use a special mouthwash or toothpaste that can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. It is also crucial to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove any plaque buildup.

Another important aspect of scaling and root planing aftercare is controlling any bleeding or swelling that may occur. After the procedure, you may notice some bleeding or soreness in your gums.

You can reduce these symptoms by applying an ice pack or taking over-the-counter pain medication as directed by your dentist or doctor. Additionally, it is important to avoid certain foods and drinks for a few days after scaling and root planing.

Hard, crunchy foods like nuts, popcorn, seeds should be avoided because they can irritate sensitive gums. It's also best to avoid coffee, tea, red wine for at least 24 hours post-treatment since these beverages can cause staining.

It's essential to attend all follow-up appointments with your dentist following scaling and root planing procedures. Your dentist will monitor the healing process of your gums carefully to ensure there are no complications such as infection or gum recession.

Proper aftercare following tooth scaling and root planing procedures plays a vital role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums over time. By maintaining good oral hygiene practices, controlling bleeding/swelling symptoms through ice packs/pain medication if needed, avoiding certain foods/drinks until healed fully (particularly those known for staining), attending follow-up appointments, and following specific instructions from your dentist/dental hygienist, you can ensure successful healing for a healthy, happy smile.

Scaling and Root Planing Cost

is an important consideration for patients who require this dental procedure. The cost of scaling and root planing can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the extent of the treatment required, the location of the dental practice, and the experience level of the dental professional performing the procedure. The cost of tooth scaling and root planing can range anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per treatment.

In general, patients can expect to pay more for scaling and root planing if they have more extensive gum disease or need more comprehensive treatment. Additionally, patients who live in urban areas or who seek out specialized dental practices may pay more for scaling and root planing than those who live in more rural areas or visit general dentists.

Many insurance plans cover at least a portion of the cost of teeth scaling and root planing, particularly if it is medically necessary to improve oral health. However, even with insurance coverage, patients may be responsible for paying a significant portion of the total cost out-of-pocket.

Some dental practices may offer financing options to help make teeth scaling and root planing more affordable for their patients. Patients should inquire about these options when scheduling their appointments or discussing treatment plans with their dentists.

Ultimately, while the cost of tooth scaling and root planing may seem high at first glance, it is important to consider it an investment in your long-term oral health. By undergoing this procedure as recommended by your dentist or periodontist, you can work to prevent serious gum disease complications that could ultimately lead to tooth loss or other health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will scaling and root planing make my teeth sensitive?

While it is possible for some patients to experience sensitivity after tooth scaling and root planing, it is typically temporary. The process removes plaque and tartar buildup from the surface of your teeth, which can cause some sensitivity but should subside within a few days.

Your dentist may recommend using a desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash to help alleviate any discomfort.

2. Can I eat and drink normally after scaling and root planing?

It's best to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes after the procedure to allow your gums time to heal. After that, you can resume your normal diet but be mindful of consuming acidic or sugary foods that could irritate your gums.

You should also avoid using tobacco products, which can slow down the healing process.

3. How often do I need scaling and root planing?

The frequency of recommended scaling and root planing appointments depends on the individual's oral health needs. People with gum disease may require more frequent cleanings than those without, typically every three to four months.

Regular dental check-ups can help you determine if you need more frequent cleanings.

4. Is there an age limit for getting scaling and root planing?

There is no age limit for receiving tooth scaling and root planing treatment; both children and adults can benefit from this procedure. However, individuals with certain medical conditions may not be eligible for the treatment due to potential risks or complications.

Overall, tooth scaling and root planing is a safe and effective way to prevent gum disease by removing harmful buildup from the teeth's surfaces. If you have any further questions about this procedure, don't hesitate to ask your dentist or dental hygienist during your appointment.


Scaling and root planing is an essential dental procedure that plays a significant role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

It is a non-surgical treatment that involves removing plaque, tartar, and other harmful substances from the teeth' surface and below the gumline. With proper oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups, scaling and root planing can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and other oral health issues.

Tooth scaling and root planing may seem intimidating to some people due to the use of instruments like scalers or ultrasonic devices, but it is generally well-tolerated by patients. Dentists take great care to ensure that patients are comfortable during the procedure by providing local anesthesia or nitrous oxide if needed.

Teeth scaling and root planing should not be seen as a one-time solution to all oral health problems. Rather, it should be viewed as part of a larger strategy for maintaining good oral hygiene.

Patients should continue with their regular brushing and flossing habits while making sure to attend regular dental check-ups.

What is root planing and scaling? It is an excellent way to improve your overall oral health by removing harmful substances from your teeth's surface and below the gumline. By working together with your dentist on a comprehensive oral hygiene plan that includes scaling and root planing as necessary, you can enjoy healthy teeth for years to come.