What to Expect During a Teeth Scaling Appointment

For the plaque and tartar you can’t reach, you may need a scaling appointment with your dentist. Here’s what to expect during a teeth scaling appointment.


About 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease occurs due to inflammation and infection in the gums. The early stage, gingivitis, can progress to periodontitis if you neglect to seek treatment.

If you have gum disease, your dentist might recommend tooth scaling and root planing. What does the procedure involve, exactly? Read on to find out.

After reviewing this guide, you can determine if you need to schedule a tooth scaling appointment with your dentist.


What Is Tooth Scaling and Root Planing?

First, let’s cover the basics. What is tooth scaling, exactly?

When you neglect to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth, plaque can form. Plaque is the sticky, clear, tacky substance that clings onto and between our teeth. When left unattended for too long, plaque hardens into tartar.

Plaque and tartar (hardened minerals) can cause inflammation, leading to tender or bleeding gums. An infection could spread as well. Your risk of gingivitis could increase if you neglect to seek treatment.

Also referred to as deep cleaning treatments in dentistry, scaling and root planning can help remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums. Tooth scaling is the process of removing tartar from the surface of your teeth. Root planing, on the other hand, removes tartar from the roots of your teeth, located below the gumline.

If tartar continues to develop and the infection continues to spread, your teeth might become loose over time. Your risk of losing a tooth could increase as a result.


Potential Patients

A bacterial infection can cause gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Remember, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis without treatment. Both are major causes of tooth loss in adults.

Risk factors of gum disease include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Suppressed immunity
  • Pregnancy
  • Broken fillings
  • Crooked teeth
  • Certain medications
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Neglecting to brush and floss

Before scheduling a teeth scaling appointment to treat gum disease, it helps to recognize signs while the disease is in its early stages. Treating gingivitis before it progresses can help you avoid complications.

Let your dentist know if your gums bleed easily or appear red and swollen. Other symptoms include:

  • Foul-smelling breath that doesn’t go away after brushing
  • Gums that are swollen, red, or tender
  • Pus between the gums and teeth
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in how your teeth fit together
  • Sensitivity
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth
  • Pain when chewing

If these symptoms sound familiar, see a dentist right away.



In some cases, periodontal disease won’t cause painful symptoms. With that in mind, make sure to visit your dentist every six months. They can recognize signs of gingivitis before the disease progresses.

Your dentist might diagnose you during one of your routine check-ups.

A dental X-ray can also help your dentist recognize gingivitis, an abscessed tooth, bone loss, or cavities.

If your dentist recognizes signs of gingivitis, they might recommend tooth scaling and root planing treatment. During the appointment, your dentist will clean below your gum line to remove tartar from your teeth and roots. Your dentist might recommend a local anesthetic to numb your mouth during the procedure.



During a teeth scaling appointment, your dentist will use a tool called an ultrasonic scaler. The procedure involves using a vibrating metal tip to chip tartar off your teeth. Remember, scaling treats the teeth above the gum line.

Once the tartar is removed, your dentist will use a water spray to wash away plaque and tartar. This process flushes plaque from your gum pockets, too.

Next, they’ll use a manual dental scaler and curette (a scraping device). Your dentist will clear away any remaining pieces of tartar above the gum line.

During a root planing procedure, your dentist will treat the roots of your teeth.

First, they’ll use a tool to push aside your gum tissue. This exposes the surface of your tooth roots. They’ll use their tooth scaling tools to remove tartar from the roots, making the roots smooth.

In some cases, your dentist will need to inject an antibiotic into your gum pockets as well.



After treating your teeth and gums, bacteria and plaque will be less likely to stick to the smooth surfaces of your teeth. Your gums will heal as inflammation decreases. In time, your healthy gums will reattach to your smoothed tooth roots.

However, you’ll need to schedule follow-up appointments with your dentist. Your dentist will measure the pockets surrounding your gum tissue to make sure they’ve decreased. If they haven’t decreased, your dentist might recommend periodontal surgery.

Surgery might involve bone grafting, flap surgery, or soft tissue grafting.

Bone grafting will replace any bone you lost using bone from lab-made materials or a donor.

Flap surgery will lower your gum line to make the gum pockets smaller. Soft tissue grafting, on the other hand, will replace lost gum tissue with tissue from your palate.

How many follow-up appointments you’ll need will vary based on the severity of your condition. Sometimes, your dentist will treat your upper and lower teeth during two separate appointments.


Benefits and Risks

Teeth scaling and root planing are both effective treatment options for gum disease. These treatments will minimize the risk of losing bone, teeth, and gum tissue.

It’s important to note that these procedures could cause some discomfort while you heal. Make sure to review any potential risks with your dentist before your teeth scaling appointment.


Talk to Your Dentist About Teeth Scaling Today

Don’t let gum disease impact your health and well-being. Instead, talk to your local dentist about teeth scaling and root planing. With their help, you can treat gum disease before it further affects your oral health.

Want to schedule a check-up with your dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are clean and healthy? We can’t wait to see you.

Contact us today to get started.