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Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling teeth is the removal of hardened plaque or tartar during your dental cleaning. In most situations, this is done with both a hand scaling tool and an ultrasonic scaler which uses a powerful stream of water to blast the material from the enamel of your teeth. Once clean, our professional hygienist will then proceed to smooth the roots, known as root planing. This process helps with two important steps, root planing helps induce a healing response from your gum tissue and also makes it more difficult for tartar to attach in the future. Scaling and root planing are a common part of most adult dental cleanings.   

Hand Scaling Tool

It can be easily assumed that you have seen a hand scaling tool, it is the most commonly used tool in dentistry. The hand scaler is a long slender stainless steel metal rod, about the size of a toothbrush, that has a hook-shaped tip. The hand scaler allows us to measure the depth of your gum pockets and remove any debris, tartar or calculus as we probe. It is a great tool but can be slow in removing tartar and somewhat uncomfortable due to the continuous scraping. It is considerably faster and more comfortable for patients to have large amounts of tartar removed with the ultrasonic scaler.   

Ultrasonic Scaler

An ultrasonic scaler is a powerful tool that is valuable to our patient’s oral health. With it, we can loosen and remove hardened plaque, known as tartar or calculus, quickly and easily. The ultrasonic scaler uses a rapidly vibrating head and a directed stream of water, the ultrasonic scaler removes harmful bacteria without damaging the enamel of your teeth or by scraping. Patients find this to be much more comfortable, and some even report liking the feeling of knowing their teeth are being thoroughly cleaned.

Following the removal of harmful bacteria, we can then proceed to smooth the roots through a process called root planing.

Root Planing

We want to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong. Gum tissue supports and surrounds your teeth, and gum tissue that is infected cannot fight the infection, so the body’s natural response is to pull away from the source of infection. This response to pulling away includes pulling away from your teeth. This is when teeth are then allowed to become loose, a shift in your mouth, or even fall out. Having healthy gums is important. After we have removed the bacteria, we then want to tell your gums so that they can begin healing. We do this by root planing. Root planing is a non-surgical treatment of smoothing of your roots. The bacteria that was present caused bumps and divots in your tissue, root planing removes that damage. At the same time of smoothing the roots, we are also signaling a healing response from your body. Through healing, the patient should see the gum tissue return to health and firmly attach once again to your teeth.