Scaling and root planing is one of the most effective, non-surgical ways to treat gum disease before it becomes severe. Scaling and root planing cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots.
Basically, scaling is the process of removing dental tartar from the surfaces of the teeth. Root planing is the process of smoothing out the root surfaces to prevent bacteria from attaching and removing any infected tooth structure. Your dentist or dental hygienist will use specialized tools to remove the hardened deposits of plaque buildup (tartar) from the teeth both above and below the gum line.
The whole procedure may be done in a single visit, although generally a quadrant (1/4th of the mouth) or half of the mouth is recommended per appointment. After a scaling and planing, you can expect that your gums will be numb from the anesthesia and then possibly a little tender. But if you maintain a consistent oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, your gums should quickly regain a firm, healthy, pink appearance.
*Be sure that your dentist or dental hygienist knows your total health history before he or she performs a scaling and root planing procedure. The procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, so precautions may need to be taken to treat gum disease in people who are at increased risk for infections, such as those with heart problems, liver disease or a compromised immune system due to an illness, such as HIV.