Root Planing and Scaling Explained

Root Planing and Scaling Aftercare

Root planing and scaling is an outpatient procedure, so once the cleaning is complete, you get to go home and rest. While this isn't surgery, you do need to give your teeth and gums a little bit of extra attention after the procedures to help your body heal.

If your dentist used anesthetic it's important not to chew, because when your mouth is numb, you can injure yourself by biting down on your lips or tongue. Your dentist may also recommend that you take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen, as needed to help with pain and swelling [source: Snydman]. You may need to visit your doctor again to have the antibiotic fibers removed from your gums, if he used them in the procedures [source: Healthwise].

Good oral hygiene helps you heal, so brush, floss, and use a mouthwash to keep bacteria and plaque at bay. While your gums heal, your teeth or gums may be more sensitive. If it's painful to brush your teeth after the procedures, you can switch to a toothpaste that's specifically made for sensitive teeth [source: Snydman].

It usually takes more than one treatment to complete root planing and scaling on your mouth. Since all of that deep cleaning can leave your teeth pretty sensitive, the dentist will only do one part your mouth at a time. The number of treatments can depend on the severity of your gum disease and your oral hygiene habits, and usually takes three to four visits to complete the process. Your dentist will schedule your follow-up appointments, usually leaving you a week to recover before the next one. She'll probably also recommend more frequent cleanings after scaling and root planing to help prevent the return of gum disease [source: UMMC].

Related Articles


  • American Academy of Periodontology. "Periodontal Procedures." AAP. (January 23, 2012)
  • Healthwise. "Root planing and scaling for gum disease." WebMD. August 21, 2009. (January 23, 2012)
  • NIDCR. "Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments." July 2011. (January 23, 2012){CE246689-D899-4CC7-B68A-805AD910F4E7}&NRORIGINALURL=%2fOralHealth%2fTopics%2fGumDiseases%2fPeriodontalGumDisease.htm&NRCACHEHINT=Guest#deep
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