Scaling & Root Planing: What to Expect Before, During, and After Your Deep Cleaning

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Have you been told that you need a dental deep cleaning? If you haven’t had this treatment before, then you are likely wondering what to expect with a scaling and root planing before and after. It’s normal to have questions before any dental treatment, and our team at Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas is always here to provide information and answer your questions.

Scaling and Root Planing: Next-Level Cleaning

When you visit the dentist for a routine examination and cleaning, it’s normal to have your teeth polished. The hygienist will remove any buildup on the surface of the teeth, including plaque and tartar. This general cleaning removes tartar from the surface of the teeth. It’s recommended that everyone book this type of appointment twice a year.

In comparison, a dental scaling and root planing procedure is much deeper and more intensive. If there is tartar buildup below the gumline, then it’s necessary to remove these spots. Different techniques are used for scaling and root planing:

  • Scaling:This treatment is when the tartar is being removed, both above and below the gumline. A dental tool is used to scrape away the buildup that has attached to your teeth.
  • Root Planing:Also, root planing is completed to smooth the rough surface of the teeth. The purpose is to prevent bacteria from sticking to the grooves.

Most of the time, scaling and root planing are done at the same time. These services can often be completed in a single appointment. But sometimes it’s necessary to have two appointments for severe cases.

Why Scaling and Root Planing is Necessary

Often, a person who needs scaling and root planing is experiencing gum inflammation and periodontal disease. The buildup of tartar under the gums causes infection to develop. Not only are these symptoms uncomfortable, but they can lead to bigger complications in the future when left untreated.

Removing the tartar under the gumline is an effective solution to stop periodontitis and prevent gum infections in the future. If periodontitis is left untreated, then it can result in permanent damage to the soft tissue and the bones that support and hold your teeth in place. When the infections continue for months or years, it can eventually result in tooth loss because there is no longer a foundation to hold the teeth.

Scaling and Root Planing: Before and After

During a routine dental examination, your dentist might recommend that you need a dental deep cleaning. Not only is the dentist evaluating your risk of cavities, but they are also looking at bone density and gum health – which are also important factors for overall dental health.

  • Before Scaling and Root Planing: Before scaling and root planing, there isn’t much that you need to do to prepare for the appointment. Make sure that you are staying consistent with brushing and flossing at home, as usual. These oral health habits help to prevent the need for more invasive dental treatments in the future.
  • During Scaling and Root Planing: During the appointment, you can relax in the chair while the dental staff is working on your teeth. Depending on the depth of cleaning that is necessary, local anesthesia might be used to manage your comfort. Different tools and handpieces are used to access the hard-to-reach areas.
  • After Scaling and Root Planing: After the appointment, you might experience a bit of discomfort and tenderness. The cleaning goes deep, so it’s normal to need a bit of time for the gums to heal. Some people also notice that they have increased tooth sensitivity during this time. But these symptoms are temporary and will usually go away within a few days. If you are experiencing recovery symptoms, then you can use over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate the discomfort.

After scaling and root planing, you’ll likely need to come back to the office for a follow-up appointment. We want to make sure that the gums are healing correctly and that the pockets of infection are going down. The goal is to decrease gum inflammation so that you can avoid complications.

How to Avoid Scaling and Root Planing

Not everyone needs scaling and root planing. These treatments are only necessary when the tartar builds up under the gumline. You can prevent these issues with good oral hygiene habits on a daily basis, including brushing and flossing.

Instead of waiting for the gums to become sensitive and irritated, it’s better to be consistent about brushing and flossing. These habits make a big difference in the long-term health of your teeth and gums. If you are proactive about brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, then it drastically decreases the likelihood that you will need a dental deep cleaning in the future.


What is the difference between basic teeth cleaning vs. deep cleaning?

A basic teeth cleaning appointment polishes the teeth and removes tartar on the visible surface of the teeth. A dental teeth cleaning (also known as scaling and root planing) is a technique that removes tartar below the surface of the gums.

Is scaling and root planing painful?

Sometimes there can be a small amount of pain or discomfort as the tartar is being removed. You might notice that your teeth are sensitive during this time. If it is too uncomfortable, then local anesthetics can be used as necessary.

How long is the appointment for scaling and root planing?

The amount of time depends on the number of areas that need to be treated and the severity of your gum disease. Most appointments last around an hour. If you have stubborn plaque, then it might be recommended that you have a longer appointment or come back for a second treatment.

Schedule an Appointment to Improve Your Gum Health

Whether it’s time for a routine cleaning and examination or you need to talk to a dental team about other treatments, we are here to help. We invite you to contact Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas to learn more about available treatments and schedule an appointment.