Why Do Dentists Use Scaling and Root Planing to Treat Gum Disease?

  • To get rid of things within the mouth such as dental plaque and tartar (also known as calculus) that can cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and the bone around it
  • To clean the periodontium and relieve suffering associated with gingivitis (mild gum irritation and tenderness) and periodontal disease
  • Because it’s a non-surgical intervention, meaning it is less invasive to the patient
  • These techniques can be used on their own or as a preventative tactic to help a periodontitis patient

Why Scaling and Root Planing Improve Patient Outcomes:

  • Disease determent – Periodontal infections come from oral bacteria, and sometimes these bacteria use the bloodstream to escape to other areas of the body, where they can contribute to problems such as lung infections and heart disease. Scaling and root planing stop bacteria in their tracks, keeping periodontal disease from continuing and rendering bacteria unable to make its way to other parts of the body.
  • Tooth protection – Deep gum pockets, particularly those 3mm deep or more, are at a high risk of periodontal disease. The deeper these pockets get, the more bacteria can take up residence in their depths. As the bacteria colonies grow, they can cause a chronic inflammatory response, which results in the eradication of gum tissue and bone, and eventually tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the biggest reason people in the developed world lose their teeth.
  • Aesthetic effects – In the process of scaling and root planing, tartar and plaque are cleared away from the teeth and from below the gums. During the course of this work, superficial stains will disappear, making this procedure great for both the patient’s oral health and their looks!
  • Better breath – Many sufferers of periodontal disease also experience halitosis (better known as bad breath) due to food particles and bacteria getting stuck in the oral cavity and causing it to smell terrible. Cleaning procedures like scaling and root planing can alleviate this symptom, improving the patient’s social life and self-confidence.

How Do Scaling and Root Planing Work?

Before suggesting or beginning a scaling and root planing treatment, your Empress Walk Dental dentist will perform a comprehensive oral exam, conduct visual observations, take X-rays, and finally diagnose your condition. If your gums are in particularly rough shape, you have a lot of tartar (also known as calculus) present, your gum pockets are particularly deep, or your periodontitis is especially severe, your dentist may administer a local anesthetic to increase your comfort during the procedure.


  • Special dental instruments and sometimes an ultrasonic scaling tool are used.
  • The scaling tools clear away calculus and plaque from the exterior of the crown and the root.
  • Oftentimes, the scaling tool also incorporates an irrigation process that can also be utilized to flush an antimicrobial solution below the gums in order to assist in the reduction of oral bacteria.

Root Planing

  • Removes cementum and surface dentin that is full of nasty microorganisms, toxins and tartar.
  • The root of the tooth is leveled in order to encourage the area to heal well. Clean, smooth root surfaces deter bacteria from returning to the area in the future.

After scaling and root planing have taken place, antibiotics may be used on the gum pockets in order to reduce inflammation and promote a speedy recovery.

At your followup appointment, your Empress Walk Dental dentist or hygienist will check your gums again to make sure that the pockets have healed nicely. If the gum pockets are still deeper than 3mm, your dentist may recommend that additional, more invasive action be taken to prevent further harm to your teeth and gums.

Interested in learning more about scaling and root planing? Your Empress Walk Dental dentist and hygienist are happy to discuss this topic with you further when you come in for your appointment. To schedule your comprehensive oral exam today at one of our convenient Toronto or North York locations, give us a call or contact us at (416) 250-8000!

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5095 Yonge St, Unit A1, North York, ON M2N 6Z4


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