Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing, often called deep cleaning, is a dental treatment that resolves gum disease and prevents its progression. This non-surgical method involves carefully eliminating plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line, followed by smoothing (planing) of the tooth roots to help the gum tissues reattach to the teeth.

If you need a scaling and root planing procedure, Dentistry in Waterloo can help. Our highly experienced hygienists can provide the necessary care for your gums and teeth.

Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing

  • Prevents Gum Disease Progression. Scaling and root planing can potentially prevent gum disease progression. By removing tartar and plaque, the procedure reduces the inflammation and bacterial infections that may lead to periodontal disease. This can also prevent further damage to the soft tissues and bones supporting your teeth.
  • Reduces Pocket Depths. Gum disease creates deep, hard-to-reach pockets between the teeth and gums where bacteria can grow. Scaling and root planing can lessen the depth of these pockets, making it difficult for bacteria to accumulate and cause infection.
  • Improves Overall Oral Hygiene. Once plaque and tartar are removed from hard-to-reach areas, oral hygiene becomes easier. Routine brushing and flossing become more effective with fewer bacterial colonies and less tartar buildup.
  • Enhances Aesthetic Appearance. Gum disease often leads to swollen, bleeding and receding gums, which may affect your beautiful smile’s appearance. Scaling and root planing may help restore the aesthetics of your gums by reducing inflammation and permitting the gums to reattach to the teeth.
  • Prevents Tooth Loss. One of the most severe consequences of untreated gum disease is tooth loss. Scaling and root planing can strengthen the support structures of the teeth by addressing the root cause of gum disease. This greatly reduces the chances of tooth loss and helps you maintain a complete, functional set of teeth.
  • Removes Bad Breath (Halitosis). Constant bad breath is usually caused by gum disease and the buildup of plaque and tartar. Getting a dental cleaning with scaling and root planing can lessen or eliminate bad breath, giving you fresher breath and improved self-confidence.
  • Reduces Systemic Health Risks. Gum disease is related to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory infections. Fortunately, scaling and root planing can reduce your body’s bacterial load and inflammation.

The Process of Scaling and Root Planing

Initial Assessment and Anaesthesia

  • Consultation and Examination. The dentist conducts a complete dental exam to assess the severity of gum disease. This includes taking digital X-rays to check for bone loss and/or cavities. Once digital x-rays are taken, they’re then forwarded to the dental hygienist who will measure the depths of gum pockets, check for bleeding, and recessions. 
  • Local Anaesthesia. If gum disease is present, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the specific treated areas to ensure patient comfort. This step is crucial, especially if the gum disease has reached advanced stages.


  • Removal of Supragingival Plaque and Tartar. The procedure starts with scaling, where the hygienist removes plaque and tartar from the visible parts of the teeth above the gum line.
  • Subgingival Scaling. The focus moves to the areas below the gingival tissues. Using specialized dental instruments such as ultrasonic and manual scalers, the hygienist targets and removes the plaque and tartar deposits that have settled beneath the gums. This deep cleaning process is essential to prevent periodontal infection and inflammation.

Root Planing

  • Smoothening the Root Surfaces. Once the scaling is complete, root planing begins. This involves carefully smoothing the tooth root surfaces to eliminate rough spots where bacteria might harbour. Smoothing the roots also creates a healthier surface for the gums to reattach.
  • Promoting Gum Reattachment. A smoother root surface aids in reattaching the gums and teeth, reducing pocket depths and securing the teeth’s foundation.

Post-Procedure Care

  • Medication and Rinses. After the treatment, your dental team may prescribe antibiotics or antimicrobial mouth rinses to control bacterial growth and reduce gum inflammation.
  • Follow-up Preventative Visits. Regular preventative appointments are usually scheduled to observe the healing process and ensure the gums reattach properly to the teeth. These regular visits allow the dentist to address concerns and recommend ongoing oral care.

Home Care Instructions

  • Oral Hygiene Practices. Patients are instructed to follow optimal oral hygiene practices. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene and teeth cleaning is necessary to prevent recurring gum disease.

Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. Steering clear of tobacco use and following a balanced diet can improve the healing process and strengthen dental health. Reducing sugary food and beverage intake minimizes plaque buildup.

FAQs About Scaling and Root Planing

Who needs scaling and root planing?

The procedure is generally recommended for patients with periodontal (gum) disease. This procedure is necessary when there is significant plaque and tartar buildup under the gum line, leading to inflammation, infection and bone loss. Dentists often suggest this treatment plan for patients showing signs of chronic periodontitis, such as red, swollen or bleeding gums, deep periodontal pockets and loose teeth.

Is scaling and root planing painful?

The procedure can cause discomfort, but dentists usually administer local anesthesia to numb the area and minimize pain. Most patients experience some soreness and sensitivity after the anesthesia wears off. However, these symptoms are generally manageable with over-the-counter pain medications and typically subside within a few days. Visiting your dentist regularly and keeping a good oral hygiene regimen of daily flossing and brushing twice a day will help minimize or eliminate discomfort during scaling and root planing.

How long does the procedure take?

The duration of the procedure depends on the condition’s severity and the extent of the treatment required. Scaling and root planing often need to be divided into multiple appointments. A single session can last between 1 to 2 hours, and typically, one quadrant of the mouth is treated per visit. In more severe cases, additional appointments may be necessary.

What should I expect after the procedure?

After the procedure, you may experience discomfort, swelling and sensitivity, particularly due to temperature changes. These symptoms usually subside within a week. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to stop possible infection and recommend mouth rinses to reduce inflammation.

Are there any special instructions to follow post-treatment?

Your hygieniist will provide specific post-treatment care instructions, which may include:

  • Avoiding hot or spicy foods and beverages immediately after the procedure to minimize irritation.
  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth and gums gently.
  • Rinsing your mouth with a prescribed antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce bacteria.
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol, which can impede the healing process.
  • Taking any prescribed medications, such as antibiotics and pain relievers, as directed.

Can scaling and root planing damage my teeth?

When performed correctly by a dental expert, scaling and root planing should not damage your teeth. The procedure is designed to remove harmful deposits and smooth the root surfaces. However, improper technique or overly aggressive dental scaling can potentially harm tooth enamel or root surfaces, so it’s important to have the procedure done by a qualified practitioner.

Dentistry in Waterloo Provides Expert Scaling and Root Planing

If you have symptoms of gum disease or have been advised to seek periodontal treatment, don’t wait any longer. At Dentistry in Waterloo, our team can provide expert scaling and root planing to restore your oral health. We have state-of-the-art dental technology and advanced techniques to achieve thorough and effective care. 

Book your dental appointment today to discuss your eligibility for scaling and root planing with our dentist!


Since providing compassionate care is our main objective, we strive to ensure that our patients feel at ease. The environment of our dental clinic is relaxing. The first impression many patients get when they walk in is that they have walked into a spa. 

A comfortable surrounding paired with a team that is kind and personable; each one of our team members show that not only do we care for you, but we also care about you. This is shown by going the extra mile to make sure that we meet your needs and expectations at all of your appointments. Our team will do everything they can to accommodate you and guide you towards a healthy and happy smile.

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We know you have many choices when choosing a Dentist in Waterloo, Ontario so we have made requesting an appointment a simple process via our Web site. If, for any reason you cannot keep a scheduled appointment, or will be delayed, please call us as soon as possible.

Insurance and Billing

At our fee-for-service office, we go above and beyond to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience for our patients. Payment is required at the end of your appointment, but we take care of the rest. Once your visit is complete, we handle the entire insurance claim process for you, submitting it electronically to save you time and effort. If you have direct deposit set up with your insurance provider, your reimbursement will be deposited into your bank account within a couple of days. Otherwise, your insurance carrier will mail the cheque to your registered address.

We strongly encourage setting up direct deposit if you have not already done so, as it will expedite the reimbursement process. Please feel free to inquire about how to proceed with this option. We are here to help!


If you are unable to keep an appointment, we ask that you kindly provide us with at least 48 clinic business hours’ notice. A fee may be charged if a patient does not show up for an appointment without sufficient notice.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing our practice for your dental care.

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