Routine cleanings in our office remove plaque and tartar that exist on your teeth above the gum line, but sometimes, especially if you don't floss regularly, plaque, tartar and bacterial toxins can develop below the gum line. The goal of scaling and root planing is to remove this source of periodontal infection from below the gum line on the surfaces of the roots.

Normally, we'll spread scaling and root planing over several appointments. This will maximize your comfort and allows us to check on the healing and help you fine-tune your homecare efforts.

To keep you comfortable, we may give you local anesthetic before the procedure begins. Then we'll use either a small scaling instrument or an ultrasonic scaler to carefully and meticulously remove plaque and tartar from the top of your tooth all the way down to the bottom of the pocket.

Then, we'll plane -- or smooth -- the root surfaces so your gums can heal and reattach to your teeth. If it appears to be necessary, an antibiotic or alternative medication will be placed in the pocket after it's been scaled and planed to control infection and promote healing. Oral antibiotics might also be prescribed to further combat the infection. Once the source of infection has been removed, your gums will begin to heal, and will once again tighten around your teeth.

Homecare is the key to continuing the healing process. Since brushing and flossing only removes plaque about three millimeters below the gum line, you'll need special tools to clean the affected areas. As part of your treatment, we'll provide you with the tools and techniques you'll need to thoroughly clean and maintain these areas.