Scaling and Root Planning

Scaling is the cleaning of teeth by the use of ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments to remove plaque and tartar.

Root Planing is similar to Scaling. The difference is that Scaling is performed on the crown portion of the teeth and Root Planing is performed on the root surfaces of the teeth. The root surfaces may be exposed to the oral environment due to receding gums, or certain fine hand instruments called curettes may be inserted within the gums to clean the root surfaces.

Scaling is performed as routine periodontal therapy (usually once in 6 months) to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from the teeth.

It is usually recommended to be done once in 6 months. However, this may vary depending on the individual patient needs.

Scaling is done with the use of Ultrasonic scalers which are vibratory instruments with fine tips that dislodge and clean the plaque and calculus when they come in contact with them. Your dentist may also use hand instruments such as Scalers and Curettes in certain areas.

Usually Scaling is not painful. It is very tolerable. However, the patient might experience slight sensitivity of the teeth and soreness of the gums when undergoing the treatment, depending on his/her teeth condition and gum condition. The dentist might opt to use local anaesthetics to make the patient feel comfortable during the treatment.

Root Planing involves smoothening of the root surfaces which are sometimes beneath the gums. Usually, the Dentist will anesthetise the region locally prior to treatment.

Usually Scaling is a non-surgical treatment procedure and is very safe. However, In certain systemic conditions like uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, severe hypertension or when the patient is on certain platelet inhibiting drugs, the dentist may defer the treatment.

Scaling and root planing removes the plaque and calculus thereby reducing the bacterial load and infection in the oral cavity. Also, it helps to contain Gingivitis (Inflammation of the gums) and Periodontitis (Infection of the supporting structures of the teeth). Scaling will reduce or eliminate the gum bleeding. It also smoothens the teeth surface and makes it conducive for the gums to attach to them.

This is a common misconception. In fact, the teeth will become strong after scaling.

No. The instruments used for scaling are specially devised so as to clean your teeth without damaging them.

Yes. However, it is prudent to let your dentist know in advance so that necessary precautions may be taken if needed.

Yes. Even children with primary dentition and mixed dentition may require scaling. However, ultrasonic scalers are usually avoided in the case of primary dentition.

Last updated on 10 December, 2018.

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