What is scaling and planing?

Categories: General Dentistry

Cheerful patient sitting in a dental chair and holding a mirror while smiling at the camera“Scaling and planing” may not sound like something you would want any part of, especially when you find out it is something that happens at your dentist’s office. You may have visions of some sort of dental torture – but actually, scaling and planing is a common procedure and a very important part of good oral health. 

What is scaling and planing used for?

Your dentist may have recommended this procedure if a lot of plaque has built up on your teeth. Too much plaque can cause gums to become inflamed and irritated, and they may start to pull away from teeth. Deep “pockets” may form as the gums pull away, and these pockets allow even more plaque and bacteria to collect. This plaque under the gum line can’t be removed simply by brushing, or even by a trip to the dentist for a cleaning. If it is bad enough, a scaling and planing may be required. 

Although they are technically two separate procedures, scaling and planing are typically done at the same time. A scaling involves the dentist using a hand tool or an ultrasonic instrument to thoroughly clean beneath the gumline. In the planing part of the procedure, the tooth root is cleaned off and smoothed out, which makes it more difficult for bacteria and plaque to stick to it and helps to protect the tooth from further damage. 

After the procedure, your teeth may feel sensitive and your gums may feel a bit swollen and tender. However, this discomfort should go away in a few days. 

What happens if I don’t get this procedure?

If your dentist recommends this procedure, there is a good reason for doing so! If plaque underneath the gum line is not removed, your gums can become irritated, you may develop gum disease, and eventually you may lose teeth and jaw bone. Once the plaque is removed, your gums will begin to heal and reattach to your teeth. 

Scaling and planing is a procedure that will improve the health of your teeth and gums and prevent further damage. If you are having problems with your oral health, don’t wait to get help! Contact Pacific Northwest Smiles today! Call 425-357-6400 for an appointment.