Root Planing and Scaling Offers Effective Treatment for Gum Disease

Apr 15, 2016 @ 09:00 AM — by Neil L. Starr, DDS

Illustration of a dental scaler cleaning between a tooth and the gumsMany patients experience heightened anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist. This anxiety is not just centered on what will happen at the dentist, but what might be found during a routine exam and cleaning. While it may be scary to hear a diagnosis of gum disease, it is always best to know what problems are present in the mouth so that they can be treated before they get out of hand. Restorative dentistry treatments can address oral health problems so that patients can continue to enjoy full oral functions and comfort. Dr. Neil L. Starr offers root planing and scaling to his Washington, DC patients who are suffering from gum disease, in order to effectively treat this condition in the most conservative manner.

What Is Root Planing and Scaling?

Root planing and scaling is a treatment that is unknown to most patients, and because of that, can sound like a scary and complicated procedure. In fact, root planing and scaling is the most conservative treatment for gum disease, and is little more than a deep cleaning. What’s more, this procedure is performed using local anesthetic, so patients will remain completely comfortable for the duration of the treatment.

Root planing and scaling achieves two important goals in the treatment of gum disease: first, root planing and scaling cleans the teeth to eliminate the harmful bacteria, plaque, and tartar that cause gum disease, and second, this treatment helps to prevent bacteria from forming between the teeth and gums in the future. In order to clean the teeth, a handheld dental tool, known as a scaler, will be used to scrape away plaque and tartar from the entire length of the patient’s teeth. It is important to clean beneath the surface of the gums, as this is where bacterial buildup can lead to an infection of the gum tissue. To help prevent this buildup from occurring again, the roots of the teeth are planed (or smoothed out). This makes it more difficult for harmful bacteria to cling to the teeth.


The teeth and gums should continue to be cleaned and cared for (with routine brushing and flossing) immediately following treatment to ensure that the teeth and gums remain clean. Patients are often provided with an anti-bacterial rinse to use for the first couple of weeks after treatment. While patients may experience some tenderness or sensitivity after the local anesthetic has worn off, this often does not last for more than a day or two.

Alternative Treatments

When patients have moderate to advanced stages of gum disease, alternative treatments may be surgical. While surgical procedures can effectively treat gum disease, they are more invasive.

Contact Us

Gum disease is a progressive condition that will continue to threaten the health of the teeth and gums until it is treated. If you’d like to learn more about how root planing and scaling can treat gum disease to preserve the health and beauty of your smile, contact us at your earliest convenience. Dr. Neil L. Starr looks forward to meeting you!

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