Do You Need to Take Time Off After Scaling and Root Planing?

Dentist About To Operate On A Dental Patient

Patients with gum disease or gingivitis may need to have a treatment called deep cleaning, scaling, or root planning to remove plaque and bacteria that is growing under the gum line and damaging their teeth. This is a relatively simple procedure that usually takes two visits. One for each side of the mouth.

Why Is Scaling and Root Planing Necessary If I Go to Regular Dental Checkups?

Even if you keep all your regular six-month check-ins with a dentist, you will need extra treatment to manage your gum disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease are found deep in the periodontal pockets, which are spaces that are hard or impossible to reach during normal cleanings.

A deep cleaning featuring scaling and root planing exposes gum tissues, tooth, and bone normally hidden in the periodontal pockets. That way, the area can be thoroughly sanitized and treated to reduce the risk of gum disease advancement.

How Does Root Planing Work?

Scaling and root planing are usually recommended when gum disease is present, and they can prevent the more damaging effects to the gums and teeth, such as loosened teeth and eventually tooth loss. They can also halt a mild case of gum disease from turning into periodontal disease.

Using a special ultrasonic scaling device that removes tartar, plaque, and biofilm, our hygienist cleans the tooth surface and under the gum line.

Is Root Planing and Scaling the Same Thing?

No, root planing and scaling are not the same thing, though they are part of the procedure known as deep cleaning. Root planing is when the root surface is smoothed, and infected tissue is removed. Scaling is the removal of dental plaque from the tooth’s surface.

What Should You Expect From A Root Planing And Scaling Procedure?

Local anesthesia is used on the area to be treated to make you comfortable and avoid pain. After scaling and root planing there will be some discomfort or soreness in the gums. Our hygienist will recommend that you use an antiseptic mouthwash or simply warm, salty water to swish around your mouth when you get home and avoid eating hard foods immediately after.

Will You Need To Take Time Off After A Root Planing And Scaling Procedure?

There should be no down time required, though the numbing feeling will last for a few hours after the procedure is completed, but you could return to work and can drive as you normally do. You will need to ask for time off for the scaling and root planing. Depending on how much plaque is found, it can take about an hour to do one side of the mouth.

Will It Be Necessary to Undergo Scaling and Root Planing Again?

After undergoing the scaling and root planing procedure, you can expect your teeth and gums to begin the healing process. You can help the process along by following some simple practices:

Continue a good oral hygiene program at home.

This should include brushing and flossing. You may also want to start using a mouth rinse as directed by a treating dentist.

Maintain all your periodontal and general dentistry appointments.

The best way to avoid a recurrence or progression of your gum disease is to keep all your visits with your dental health providers.

Stop smoking.

It is no secret that smoking is linked to instances of gum disease. In fact, smokers double their chances of experiencing gum disease. (1) If you smoke, why not use your scaling and root planing treatment as the starting point for quitting?

Maintain a nutrient-rich diet.

Eating whole foods like fresh fruits, ripe vegetables, lean proteins, and, if tolerable, dairy products can give your mouth a nutrition boost. For instance, some studies have shown a correlation between periodontal improvements and the ingestion of foods rich in vitamins A and C. (2)

Of course, even with diligent self-care, your dentist may feel that a future scaling and root planing deep cleaning could be beneficial. In that case, you should find a credentialed dentist you feel comfortable with.

Find a Dentist Who Specializes in Scaling and Root Planing!

Think you might have gum disease after noticing signs like bleeding gums, bad breath, and swollen gums? The sooner you visit a dentist in San Antonio, TX, or your nearest location, the sooner you can get a diagnosis—and get on the track to healthier teeth, gums, and jawbone.

Dr. Andrew J. Weber holds a Master’s degree and specialty certificate in Periodontics. For 20 years, he has used his experience and training to provide patients with exceptional, customized care. In addition to offering scaling and root planing, Dr. Weber provides other periodontics-related services including soft tissue grafts, laser periodontal treatments, and application of the revolutionary Pinhole® Surgical Technique to address gum recession.

Make an appointment with Dr. Weber at Excellent Dental Specialists today by calling our offices across Texas today!


(1) Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention,

(2) The Role of Nutrition in Periodontal Health: An Update, US National Library of Medicine,

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