Periodontal scaling/teeth cleaning procedures involve the removal of plaque, tartar, and stain from the crown (enamel) and root surfaces of the teeth. Root planning is a specialized skill involving scaling and smoothing of the root of the tooth.
The root of the tooth is made of a tooth layer called Cementum. Cementum is softer than enamel, and therefore, is affected more by the ongoing build up of plaque and tartar. A smooth root surface provides less opportunity for bacteria to accumulate and form tartar.
Root planning is an important part of the treatment needed to stop periodontal disease from getting worse. Periodontal disease can cause pockets to develop. Periodontal pockets are deeper than the usual gingival depth that surrounds each tooth. Therefore, when scaling and root planning treatments are done in the presence of periodontal pockets, it is often referred to as a deep cleaning. Periodontal treatment may be performed using various dental tools. Hand instruments called scalers and ultrasonic instruments are used for treatment.
Scaling and root planning is the initial and primary treatment of periodontal disease. Once the periodontal treatment is complete, for the treatment to be considered effective, the patient must be able to be maintained at a stable level of periodontal health, without re-infection. Usually, the client is placed on periodontal maintenance therapy and asked to return every 3 to 4 months to sustain the health of the gums.