Scaling and Root Planing: Process, Pain, and Aftercare Tips

By Date posted: Last updated: January 25, 2023
does scaling and root planing hurt

Scaling & Root Planing, also referred to simply as deep cleaning is an effective way to remove tartar & treat inflamed gums. For people suffering from Periodontitis, this is a much-needed treatment as in its absence patients can contend with the loss of teeth, gums & bone.

Risk factors that developed periodontitis

  • Diabetes
  • History of gum disease in the family
  • Dental bridges that haven’t been fitted correctly
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Poor oral hygiene, and more.

When do you need scaling and root planing?

There are several conditions that necessitate scaling and root planning

1. Oral Health

The accumulation of plaque & tartar is the perfect ground for bacteria to grow. In the early stages it could lead to Gingivitis where gums become red & swollen. This may progress to periodontal disease where there is inflammation of the gums & the bone that surrounds the teeth.

2. Overall Health

Gum disease is linked to a variety of other problems including the risk of heart disease and stroke. Ensuring that you undertake scaling & root planning will stop the bacteria from the teeth entering the bloodstream.

3. Look & feel

The procedure helps remove unsightly plaque, tartar & stains on your teeth & helps you look better & feel confident.

4. Stops bad breath

Bacteria causes a lot of bad breath, which is removed once the plaque and tartar are cleared away.

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Scaling and Root Planing Procedure

Process of Tooth Scaling

Your dentist will use an ultrasonic scaler, where its metal tip will remove the tartar that has accumulated on your teeth. There is a water spray on the scaler that washes the tartar away. The remaining pieces of tartar may be removed using a manual scaler & a scrapping device.

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Process of Root Planing

While the process is similar to scaling. Root planning is undertaken below the gum line. Essentially the gum tissue will be gently pushed, and tartar will now be removed from the roots. Sometimes it may also be necessary to inject an antibiotic into the gum pockets.

After the procedure is complete, your dentist will want you to come back for a follow-up appointment. If the inflamed tissue has settled, pockets surrounding the gums are smaller & bleeding has stopped, you may in future only need periodic maintenance visits. However, if the pockets have become deeper, more visits may be needed.

Does scaling and root planing hurt?

You are likely to experience some pain & discomfort after the treatment. Increased sensitivity in the tooth & gums is also common. You could also witness swelling & redness in the gums.

Typically the pain subsides within 24-48 hours. You could experience minor bleeding during brushing, but it will soon go away. In case the bleeding continues, a moistened tea bag or gauze will come in handy to put pressure on the area. If you experience bleeding even after 48 hours, do contact the dental office.

Scaling and Root Planing Aftercare

Here are some effective after care tips.

1. Saltwater Rinses

Warm saltwater will not only relax your gums it will also remove any debris from around the teeth.

2. Gentle Brushing

After scaling & root planning treatment, it is important to brush softly so that your teeth & gums aren’t irritated. The use of a de-sensitizing toothpaste is ideal. Toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate could provide relief.

3. Water Flosser

The use of a water flosser will be ideal as you will not have to force your way between the teeth, up to the already irritated gums.

4. Soft Food

Consuming soft food for the first 48 hours is ideal. Soups, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, cooked vegetables are Avoid eating nuts, popcorn or any other hard & crunchy food. Also avoid any hot & spicy food as also the intake of alcohol.

5. Physical Activity

Avoid physical activity immediately after the procedure.

6. Pain Relievers

For discomfort & pain, your dentist could recommend mild pain relievers. Do take the medications as advised along with following all instructions.

7. Dental Appointments

Ensure that you stick to your dental appointment schedule, as you may need more than one sitting for your scaling/root planning treatment.

In case you experience worsening pain, develop a fever or if the healing does not take place as expected, do not hesitate to contact your dentist.

To sum up

Teeth scaling & Root Planing are common procedures that are used to treat periodontal disease. These are performed as an outpatient procedure. The mild side effects that you may experience settle in a few days. The advantage that the procedure brings to your overall health is immense.

If you are facing any dental problems then schedule a dental appointment with Dr. Sharda Patel – a Pleasanton based dentist who provides several dental services like teeth whitening and tooth extraction including scaling and root planing.