Scaling & Root Planing

bleeding gums

If your face started bleeding when you washed it you would see a dermatologist, so if your gums bleed upon brushing, see Dr. Knabe!


Why do I need this strange procedure, Scaling and Root Planing, that sounds more like a master plan for climbing a magic beanstalk? I mean, my teeth don’t even hurt…

If a dentist recommends Scaling and Root Planing(SRP), it’s because you have bleeding gums, deep pockets in the gum tissue around the teeth that have filled with plaque and bacteria, and possibly signs of bone loss. These problems may not be causing you a lot of pain, but they are very detrimental for your oral health and overall health if not addressed. Although you may not have noticed the issues yourself, once it is taken care of most patients are very pleased with how much better their teeth look and feel.

What is Scaling and Root Planing?

The Scaling component is when special tools are used to remove all the plaque and tartar from the deep periodontal pockets. Root planing is the part that helps your gums reattach to the teeth and make your periodontal pocket smaller. The procedure may take more than one visit and an antibiotic may be placed to help fight off the infection. 

Why can’t I just get a regular cleaning?

A typical cleaning is performed when plaque is removed above the gum line and there is no build-up below the gum line, bleeding, deep periodontal pockets or bone disintegration. When any of those things are present, scaling and root planing is needed to help prevent irreversible periodontal disease or to stop present disease from proliferating. 

Won’t the problems go away if I just promise to brush extra good?

Although upping your hygiene game is always a good thing, once build-up gets trapped under the gum line it is not accessible by a toothbrush. Special dental tools and a skilled professional are needed to safely and effectively remove the build-up. 

What happens if I decline the recommended treatment?

Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss, bone loss, bad breath and heart disease. The good news is that scaling and root planing is a relatively easy and inexpensive procedure compared to the surgical methods required if problems advance.

Will it be painful?

You will be numb for the procedure and will only have mild tenderness after. You will have a few post-op instructions to follow and can otherwise go right back to your daily routine. 

Will my teeth be protected from periodontal disease afterwards?

Scaling and Root Planing is the first step in removing the offensive bacteria that is causing the disease, but good hygiene habits and frequent dental maintenance visits will be necessary to keep the disease at bay. Dr. Knabe will recommend a schedule for periodontal maintenance visits, which are more involved than a routine cleaning which removes plaque and stain above the gumline. At a periodontal maintenance visit, she will clean out the periodontal pockets that were caused by the disease and remove plaque or tartar from the tooth’s root.


periodontal disease

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