Root Planing and Scaling: Scraping Tartar and Plaque

January 21, 2015 — by Kenneth W. Coffey, DDS
Tags: Root Planing Root Scaling Tooth Decay Gum Disease

A woman holding her faceKenneth W. Coffey, DDS has helped countless patients in and around the Chicago area. This is thanks to advanced cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments that improve the look and health of smiles. Yet the basics are still important, which is why root planing and scaling are an important part of properly offering patient care.

What is root planing and scaling?

Also known as deep cleaning, root planing and scaling treatment refers to the careful scraping away of tartar and plaque lodged down at a patient's gumline. This is a great way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease in an area of the mouth that is hard to reach.

Why is root planing and scaling necessary?

Even if you brush and floss regularly, you may not be able to access certain parts of your teeth and gums, especially down at the gumline. Root planing and scaling will allow a dentist to carefully treat this part of the mouth and improve your overall dental health in the process.

Is deep cleaning the same as a traditional dental cleaning?


Root planing and scaling will involve scraping away plaque and tartar as well as the smoothing down of rough tooth structure that has been harmed by minor tooth decay.

While some scraping is involved in a regular dental cleaning, the routine polish is mostly done with just an electric brush. A root planing and scaling treatment really does clean at a deep level.

Is anesthetic used during deep cleanings?


Local anesthetic is used during a root planing and scaling treatment in order to reduce pain and discomfort that a patient may face. This will wear off by the end of the day.

What can I expect during root planing and scaling?

During root planing and scaling treatment, a dentist and dental hygienist will carefully work on part of the mouth, usually one-quarter to one-half. Using a scraper and working closely and carefully, your dentist will get down at the gumline to remove those harmful build-ups of plaque and tartar. The treatment should take about an hour or two.

Why is deep cleaning only performed on part of the mouth?

One reason that dentists only treat part of the mouth is a matter of time. Since treatment can take up to two hours in some cases, breaking up treatment time helps ensure that patients do not spend a prolonged amount of time in the dental chair.

Anesthetic is also an important consideration. If the entire mouth of a patient was anesthetized, it would make eating, drinking, and speaking very difficult throughout the rest of the day. By only treating part of the mouth, patients are less inconvenienced.

What can I expect after deep cleaning treatment?

The teeth and gums may feel tender in the area that the treatment was performed, which is normal. Patients should avoid hot or cold foods in order to prevent attacks of tooth sensitivity. Patients should also brush and floss as they usually would, though they should be gentle to prevent discomfort.

How can I learn more about root planing and scaling?

To learn more about root planing and scaling as well as the many treatment options available to address major dental health and wellness issues, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Kenneth W. Coffey and the entire team look forward to your visit and helping you achieve the best when it comes to your dental wellness.

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