Brushing and flossing are important steps in your oral care routine. But sometimes, these alone may not be enough to preserve your mouth health and protect against gum disease. Tooth scaling and root planing are ‘deep cleaning’ techniques dentists recommend as part of a non-surgical procedure if you show early signs of this condition. During your annual or semi-annual check-up, your dentist can determine whether you’ll need this deep cleaning, which they can perform or, for more advanced cases, a periodontist. Let’s look at this process in more detail:

What is Tooth Scaling?

Tooth scaling is the first part of this two-step procedure which involves removing plaque and tartar from your teeth on the gumline. During this part of the process, your dentist will:

What is Root Planing?

Root planing is the second step in this process, focusing specifically on the area below your gumline. It’s very similar to tooth scaling but occurs on the roots of your teeth. The goal is to smooth these areas, eliminating any rough spots where bacteria can gather. It can also help reduce inflammation, shrink the pockets between your teeth and gums, and improve your overall gum health. 


During this process, your dentist will:

What to Expect After Your Appointment

Your gums may be temporarily swollen and tender after your appointment, but that is common. Your teeth may also feel sensitive, so try to eat softer foods and avoid snacks or drinks that are extremely hot or cold. If you find it difficult to brush your teeth due to the swelling or pain, contact your dentist or periodontist for recommendations. Along with regular teeth cleaning, your dentist may also recommend using an antibacterial mouth rinse for five to seven days after your procedure or until your gums have healed. 


At follow-up appointments, your dentist will determine if there’s a need for further treatments with a periodontist or periodontal surgeon. If they do find you need surgical treatment, the procedure recommended will be slightly more advanced than tooth scaling and root planing. Some options for advanced treatment include:

The amount of appointments you’ll need to lessen or get rid of your gum disease will depend on your dentist and the severity and extent of your condition.


Some providers do tooth scaling and root planing procedures in sections, treating only a portion of the mouth at a time, requiring more appointments, while some do the entire mouth in the same procedure.


A dentist in scrubs and a blue facemask uses a tool connected to a tube on a woman sitting with her mouth open.

Who Needs Tooth Scaling and Root Planing?

These dental procedures are often recommended for individuals showing signs of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This condition often results from the accumulation of plaque and tartar along and below the gumline, leading to inflammation and infection. 

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a form of gum disease, a serious infection in the tissue surrounding your teeth. The infected tissue can destroy the bone and cause teeth to loosen, leading to tooth loss. 


While periodontitis often results from poor dental care routines, it’s essential to note that this condition is also the most common dental problem for Canadians. In fact, seven out of ten people will develop it at some point in their lives. One of the reasons gum disease is so prevalent is due to the fact that it can progress slowly, only causing symptoms when it becomes a severe infection. That’s why prevention, by brushing and flossing regularly, is so important. 

Risk Factors for Periodontitis

Despite the commonality of periodontitis, there are still increased risk factors associated with the condition.. These include, but are not limited to:

Regardless of whether you have any of the above risk factors, a robust dental care routine is essential to protect your teeth and gums. Regularly brush and floss your teeth, don’t forget to schedule check-ups with your dentist, so they can verify that your teeth and gums are healthy.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

Now that you know what the risk factors and how common periodontitis is, you might be curious about the symptoms you should look out for. Keep in mind that gum disease can have overlapping symptoms with other dental concerns, so if you are dealing with any of the below issues, book an appointment with your dentist right away:

As mentioned, these symptoms may not mean you have gum disease, but it’s still important to mention them to your dentist to discuss treatment or pain management options. 

When Should I Make an Appointment?

Scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist is critical to maintain your oral health. At these appointments, your dentist can catch the signs of gum disease early and recommend whether you’ll need a scaling and planing procedure. At Costello Family Dentistry, we’re here to help you take control of your dental health—contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani has helped to restore the smiles and self-confidence of countless clients since opening Yazdani Family Dentistry in 2001. As CEO and Director, he has amassed thousands of hours of comprehensive training and real-world experience in his decades-long tenure. Dr. Yazdani is deeply passionate about his work, family, and making the most of life itself.

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