Root Planing and Root Scaling: What Is Deep Cleaning Treatment? By James Stein on July 03, 2014

A woman smiles at the cameraDr. James Stein is committed to the latest in advanced dental care, including state-of-the-art restorative dentistry treatments to improve dental health and the latest in cosmetic dentistry procedures in to enhance the aesthetics of your smile. This is why patients throughout the greater Boston area have visited his practice to get the help that they need.

One treatment that is relatively well-known but often misunderstood is deep cleaning. It's really two procedures combined: root planing and root scaling. Let's look at this issue in basic detail right now.

About Root Planing and Root Scaling

Also known as deep cleaning, root planing and scaling are performed in order to treat and prevent gum disease and to improve overall dental health. Deep cleaning is different than a traditional dental cleaning in that it is specially performed in order to treat the portion of the tooth at the gumline.

Many people think that root planing and root scaling are synonymous, but they are actually different procedures.

  • Root Planing - Root planing refers to the removal of any tooth structure that's been infected and the smoothing down of the tooth root
  • Root Scaling - Root scaling refers to the use of a scraper to remove plaque and tartar that's attached to a tooth

Why Root Planing and Root Scaling Are Important

When tooth decay affects the tooth root or any part of the tooth at the gumline or when the gums themselves are just starting to become afflicted with periodontal disease, it is very difficult for patients to treat these problems at home on their own. Only a professional root planing or root scaling will be able to treat these sorts of problems.

Ideal Candidates for Deep Cleaning Treatment

The best candidates for root planing and root scaling are people who suffer from early signs of gingivitis or minor signs of tooth decay at the gumline. It's important that they have realistic expectations about the procedure and what it can achieve.

The Root Planing and Root Scaling Procedure

Local anesthetic is used on the area being treated in order to prevent major discomfort for the patient. Your dentist and dental hygienist will then use special scraping tools in order to improve the smoothness and health of the tooth. Treatment times can vary from patient to patient based on their situation.

Please note that root planing and scaling is only performed on one half or quarter of the mouth at a time, so multiple deep cleaning procedures will be necessary to treat a patient's entire mouth.

Why is root planing and scaling only performed on part of my mouth?

The local anesthetic used during a deep cleaning will render a patient's mouth numb for the rest of the day after the procedure. It would be inconvenient to use anesthetic on a patient's entire mouth, and the treatment time would be considerable as well.

For the safety and convenience of the patient, it's best that we only perform the deep cleaning on part of the mouth and perform additional treatments as needed afterward.

Recovering from Root Planing and Root Scaling

Recovery from deep cleaning is generally easy. The patient's teeth and gums will feel numb and tingly for remainder of the day as a side effect of the anesthetic. In order to prevent tooth sensitivity or gum irritation, it's important that patients eat foods and drink beverages that are lukewarm. Patients will be expected to brush and floss as they normally would at night as well.

Learn More About Advanced Dental Care Treatment

For more information about root planing, root scaling, and other treatments out there to address tooth decay and gum disease, we encourage you to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. Dr. Stein and his team of dental health experts look forward to meeting you in person and helping you have the healthiest smile possible.

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Drs. Stein

James M. Stein, DMD

Our dental practice has been trusted by Boston patients for over 30 years. Together, Dr. James M. Stein and Brett E. Stein are members of various renowned organizations, including: 

  • American Dental Association
  • Massachusetts Dental Society
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American College of Prosthodontists

If you are ready to achieve optimal oral and overall health, call our office at (617) 227-6076 or request an appointment online.

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