What is scaling and root planning

Kanata South Dental - Dentist Kanata

What is scaling and root planning

Scaling and root planning, often called deep cleaning, is a common dental procedure performed by dental hygienists or dentists. It is a non-surgical treatment for periodontal disease, a condition involving inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissues.

Here's a breakdown of the process:

  1. Scaling: During scaling, the dental professional uses special instruments to remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surface of the teeth and below the gumline. Plaque and tartar harbor bacteria that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Scaling helps to eliminate these harmful substances, promoting healthier gums and preventing further damage to the teeth and supporting structures.
  2. Root Planning: Root planning involves smoothing out the roots of the teeth to remove any rough areas where bacteria can accumulate. This process helps to prevent plaque and tartar buildup and allows the gums to reattach more firmly to the teeth. By removing bacterial deposits and promoting a smoother tooth surface, root planning can help reduce inflammation and facilitate the healing of gum tissues.

Scaling and root planning are typically recommended for patients with gum disease, particularly in the early stages (gingivitis) or moderate to advanced stages (periodontitis). These procedures are often performed in conjunction with other treatments, such as antibiotic therapy or ongoing maintenance cleanings, to manage and control gum disease effectively.

It's essential to maintain good oral hygiene habits, including regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, to prevent gum disease and maintain optimal oral health. Additionally, following any post-treatment instructions provided by your dental care provider can help ensure the success of scaling and root planning procedures.


During Scaling and Root Planning (SRP), some discomfort or sensitivity can be expected, but it varies from person to person and depends on several factors, including the extent of gum disease, individual pain tolerance, and the effectiveness of local anesthesia.

Here's what you might experience:

  1. During the Procedure:
    • You may feel pressure or vibrations as the dental hygienist or dentist uses instruments to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth.
    • Local anesthesia is typically administered before the procedure to numb the area and minimize discomfort. However, you may still feel some sensations during the process.
  2. After the Procedure:
    • Mild discomfort or soreness in the gums is common after scaling and root planing, particularly around the treated teeth.
    • Some sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures may occur, especially if the roots of your teeth were exposed during the procedure.
    • Gums may appear swollen or tender for a few days following the treatment.
    • You might experience some bleeding from the gums, especially during brushing or flossing in the first few days after SRP. This is normal and should gradually improve.
  3. Potential Complications:

    In some cases, patients may experience more significant discomfort, especially if they have advanced gum disease or if the procedure is extensive. If you're experiencing severe pain or prolonged discomfort, it's essential to contact your dental care provider for further evaluation.

To manage discomfort after scaling and root planning, you can:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed by your dentist.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater to soothe sore gums.
  • Avoid eating hard, crunchy, or spicy foods that may irritate sensitive gums.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits, including gentle brushing and flossing, to promote healing and prevent infection.
  • Follow any post-treatment instructions provided by your dental professional.

If you have concerns about pain or discomfort during or after scaling and root planning, don't hesitate to communicate with your dentist or dental hygienist. They can provide additional anesthesia or recommend strategies to help manage your discomfort effectively.


The frequency of scaling and root planning (SRP) visits can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of gum disease (periodontitis), your oral health status, and your dentist's recommendation. In general, patients with gum disease may require more frequent SRP treatments to manage the condition effectively.

Here are some guidelines regarding the frequency of SRP visits:

  1. Initial Treatment: If you're diagnosed with gum disease, your dentist or periodontist will typically recommend an initial series of SRP treatments to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from below the gum line and promote gum healing. This initial phase may involve multiple appointments scheduled over several weeks.
  2. Maintenance Phase: After the initial SRP treatment, your dentist will recommend a maintenance schedule based on your specific needs and response to treatment. For most patients with gum disease, regular follow-up visits every three to four months are typically recommended to prevent the recurrence of periodontal problems and maintain optimal oral health.
  3. Individualized Care: Your dentist will assess your oral health status, including the severity of gum disease, the presence of risk factors such as smoking or diabetes, and your response to treatment, to determine the appropriate frequency of SRP visits. Some patients may require more frequent treatments, while others may be able to extend the intervals between appointments based on their oral health improvement.
  4. Ongoing Monitoring: Regular dental check-ups are essential for monitoring your gum health and detecting any signs of disease progression or recurrence. During these visits, your dentist will evaluate the health of your gums, measure the depth of periodontal pockets, and recommend additional treatments or adjustments to your oral hygiene routine as needed.

It's essential to follow your dentist's recommendations for SRP treatments and maintenance visits to effectively manage gum disease and prevent complications such as tooth loss or systemic health problems associated with periodontal disease. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing, flossing, and using antimicrobial mouth rinses, can help support the success of SRP treatments and promote long-term oral health.


The duration of a scaling and root planning (SRP) procedure can vary depending on several factors, including the extent of gum disease, the number of teeth involved, and the individual patient's oral health status. Generally, a typical SRP appointment can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes per quadrant of the mouth (four quadrants in total for a full-mouth treatment). Here's a breakdown of the time involved:

  1. Assessment and Planning: Before starting the procedure, your dentist or dental hygienist will conduct a thorough examination of your oral health, including measuring the depth of periodontal pockets, assessing the extent of plaque and tartar buildup, and identifying treatment. This initial assessment helps determine the scope of the SRP treatment and may take about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Scaling: The scaling portion of the procedure involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces and below the gumline using specialized instruments. Depending on the severity of plaque and tartar buildup, this step may take 20-30 minutes per quadrant.
  3. Root Planning: Root planning involves smoothing out the surfaces of the tooth roots to remove bacterial deposits and promote gum healing. This step may take an additional 20-30 minutes per quadrant, depending on the extent of root surface irregularities.
  4. Reevaluation and Post-Treatment Instructions: After completing the SRP procedure, your dentist or dental hygienist will reevaluate the treated areas, ensure thorough cleaning, and provide you with post-treatment instructions for home care and maintenance. This final step typically takes .

Keep in mind that the time required for scaling and root planning may vary based on individual factors such as the presence of deep periodontal pockets, the need for local anesthesia, and the patient's comfort level during the procedure.

Dentist Kanata

We will gladly answer any questions you may have.

  Ask Questions

Kanata South Dental offers the ability to request your dentist appointments online. Schedule an appointment now!

  Book Online

By filling out the New Patient Forms ahead of time you will save significant time on your visit.

  New Patient Forms
Latest News
How to make your dental cleaning last longer
Tue, 11 Jun 2024

Making your dental cleaning last longer involves adopting good oral hygiene practices and healthy habits. Here are some tips to help maintain the cleanliness of...

  Continue Reading

Sorry, we're currently closed. Please send us a message and we'll get back to you as quickly as possible.