Scaling and root planing is the most common and conservative form of treatment for periodontal (gum) disease.
Scaling is the removal of tartar and plaque attached to the surfaces of your teeth. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root.
Plaque is a sticky substance, full of bacteria, that forms on teeth. When plaque hardens over time, it is called calculus, or tartar. Plaque is more likely to stick to rough surfaces. For this reason, the root surface is made smooth in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining calculus and smooths irregular areas of the root surface.
For some patients, scaling and root planing can cause discomfort. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the portion of your mouth that is being worked on. For two to three days after the treatment, you may have some soreness and be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help.