Scaling and root planing

Often the first treatment recommended for patients with periodontal disease is scaling and root planing, a non-surgical cleaning procedure.  Scaling and root planing is a careful and thorough cleaning of the root surfaces in an attempt to remove bacteria and calculus (tartar) from deeper pockets and to smooth the root surfaces to remove bacterial toxins.  Scaling and root planing is usually done over several sessions and with local anesthesia to ensure patient comfort.  There is minimal discomfort after the procedure and no restrictions for patients after treatment in any way.  On some occasions, adjunctive antibiotic therapy is recommended and the antibiotics are taken during or immediately after the scaling and root planing treatment.  After scaling and root planing, many patients do not require additional surgical therapy, although continued maintenance cleaning visits will still be needed.

Non-surgical periodontal therapy does have its limitations however, and when it does not achieve periodontal health, surgical treatment may be indicated to restore periodontal anatomy damaged by periodontal disease and to ensure the complete removal of bacteria and calculus.