Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning below the gumline used to treat gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but if they aren’t cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease could lead to bone and tooth loss.
If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t damaged the structures below the gum line, a professional cleaning should do. If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, however, scaling and root planing may be needed.
A July 2015 study in the Journal of the American Dental Association finds that scaling and root planing is beneficial to patients with chronic periodontitis (gum disease that has advanced past gingivitis). Chronic periodontitis affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States.