What is it?
Scaling and root planing is the most common and conservative form of treatment for periodontal (gum) disease.
Scaling is the removal of calculus (commonly called tartar) and plaque that attach to the tooth surfaces. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root.
Root planing removes any remaining calculus and smoothes irregular areas of the root surface, making it hard for plaque to stick.
How is it done?
Using a local anesthetic, scaling and root planing are done with a combination of ultrasonic scalers and hand instruments. First, ultrasonic instruments are used to remove large deposits of plaque and calculus from the crowns and roots of the teeth. Hand instruments (called scalers and curettes) remove any remaining material and make sure the tooth surface is clean and smooth.
How long does it take?
With gingivitis, as little as one visit. With more advanced gum disease, multiple visits are usually needed.