dentist reviewing x-ray with patient

Why You May Need Scaling and Root Planing

What is scaling and root planing and why would I need to have it done?

One such certainty is the necessity of maintenance. Without care and maintenance, many of the things we value will deteriorate, decay or fall into ruin. Our homes, for instance, require all sorts of repairs, as well as regular cleaning to keep them in good shape. Even regular cleaning only goes so far and cannot always keep things as clean as we would like. This has led to the practice of less frequent but more in-depth maintenance, often referred to as “spring cleaning”, even if not always done in the spring. 

The same is true with our dental hygiene practices. Daily brushing and flossing are extremely important but do have their limitations. Your dental hygienist appointments can usually take care of the plaque and tartar buildup that you haven’t been able to reach. 

Usually. But not always.

Scaling and Root Planing for Deep Cleaning

Just like your house may need an especially deep cleaning once in a while, the same is true of your teeth. We may not like to think about it, but bacteria will always be present in our mouths. Every time we eat something containing carbohydrates, that bacteria feeds on any of it left behind, and the result is plague. Then any plague that isn’t totally removed by brushing or those twice a year cleanings builds up in hard to reach areas between teeth and under gums. In time, this hardens into tartar. 

You may not even be aware of tartar buildup, but it is not something that can just be ignored. If not removed, the result can be tooth loss, gum disease, and bone damage. Even worse, left untreated, this can lead to serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  

The good news is that your dentist has a procedure that is very effective at getting rid of the plague and tartar that has evaded normal cleanings. It is the dental equivalent of extra deep cleaning; scaling and root planing.

So, what exactly is scaling and root planing? 


Scaling may be done manually or with an ultrasonic scaler. If done by hand, your dentist or hygienist will use hand-held instruments, usually a scaler and curette, to remove or scale the plague and tartar from the teeth. With the ultrasonic scaler, the buildup is chipped away by a rapidly rotating tip. 

Root planing

Scaling and root planing are both necessary for a thorough cleaning. Scaling takes care of the visible tooth surface and root planing, as the name implies, focuses on the root. The rougher the surface, the easier it is for bacteria to escape cleaning and attach. By planing, or smoothing, any rough areas on the tooth root, it robs the bacteria of its hiding place and reduces the risk of infection setting in. 

If you have questions about scaling and root planing or any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Cohen Dental Care is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Great Neck and Briarwood. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.