Scaling and Root Planing (SRP)

Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning below the gumline used to treat gum disease. Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but if they aren’t cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease could lead to bone and tooth loss.

If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gumline, a professional cleaning should do. If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, however, scaling and root planing may be needed. Scaling is when your dentist or hygienist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gumline, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. Your dentist will first numb up the area, so no discomfort is felt. Your dentist or hygienist will then begin root planing and smooth the root surface so bacteria are removed easier and to help your gums reattach to your teeth. Scaling and root planing may take more than one visit to complete.

Side effects regarding recommended treatment include sensitivity, change in the gum line, possibility of dislodging a failing filling, and possible abscess due to the severity of the disease. It is important to know that not all patients will respond equally to treatment, and additional therapy may be warranted on specific areas of the mouth, including referral for specialty therapy, antibiotic therapy and/or laser therapy. Certain risk factors such as smoking and diabetes will affect the prognosis of treatment, making it more difficult to control. Once the scaling and root planing procedure is complete, there will be a 6-week evaluation of the gum tissues where we will check and record the measurements of the gums. This allows us to see where the treatment was successful and if there are any areas that need further treatment. More frequent periodontal maintenance prophies (cleanings) will also be necessary.