Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)

If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. Many adults in the U.S. currently have some form of the disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.


Whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse, depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, from this point forward.

Scaling and root planing is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease before it becomes severe. Scaling and root planing cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots. A local anesthetic is used to numb your gums and the roots of your teeth.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Symptoms of gum disease include:Gum_Disease_Edward_B_Coffey_DDS_MS_Encinitas_Dental_Art

  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

Any of these symptoms may be a sign of a serious problem, which should be checked by Dr. Coffey.

How are deep cleanings performed?

Scaling_and_Root_Planing_Edward_B_Coffey_DDS_MS_Encinitas_Dental_ArtDuring the teeth scaling process, our dental hygienist will numb your gums and roots with a local anesthetic. Teeth scaling and root planing cause very little discomfort. Our dental hygienist will use specialized tools to remove the hardened deposits of plaque buildup (tartar) from the teeth both above and below the gum line. Root planing involves smoothing rough spots on the roots of the teeth that can promote gum disease by trapping and holding bacteria.

How long does the procedure take?

The whole procedure may be done in a single visit, although Dr. Coffey generally recommends a quadrant (1/4th of the mouth) or half of the mouth per appointment, since each quadrant takes approximately one hour.

What can I expect afterwards?

  • Discomfort can vary after root planing, but one can expect it to be more sore afterwards since it’s usually in a deeper region under the gums.
  • The teeth themselves can become a bit more sensitive to temperature, and bleeding might occur for a little while.
  • Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen work very well to alleviate discomfort.
  • Brushing and flossing should be done more gently to avoid aggravating any bruised or tender gum areas.
  • Dr. Coffey or our hygienist may recommend salt water or chlorhexidine rinses.

After a scaling and planing, you can expect that your gums will be numb from the anesthesia and then possibly a little tender. But if you maintain a consistent oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, your gums should quickly regain a firm, healthy, pink appearance.


Be sure that we know your total health history before the scaling and root planing procedure. The procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, so precautions may need to be taken to treat gum disease in people who are at increased risk for infections, such as those with heart problems, liver disease, or a compromised immune system due to an illness, such as HIV.

If you would like to schedule a FREE consultation for deep cleaning (x-rays not included) with Encinitas Dentist, Edward B. Coffey, DDS MS – Encinitas Dental Art, please call us at (760) 942-7272.  Hablamos Español.