Does The Scaling And Root Planing Procedure Hurt?

Does The Scaling And Root Planing Procedure Hurt?

Team Oral Surgery - Periodontics

Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning of your teeth. It is actually two procedures that are performed in tandem for the treatment and management of gum disease. 

If you have an upcoming scaling and root planing appointment, you may be wondering what to expect. Does it hurt? How long will it take? Is once enough? Learn the answers to these questions and more about this common periodontal procedure. 

Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease is the official term for gum disease. It is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue caused by the bacteria in plaque. When plaque builds up on the teeth and is not removed by brushing and flossing, it can start to form under the gums as well. As it hardens into calculus the bacteria begin to infect the gum tissue, resulting in periodontal disease. 

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing are performed one after the other.  

  • Scaling. Scaling is the first step in the procedure. The gum tissue is gently pulled away from the teeth and dental tools are used to clear out plaque and remove calculus from the roots of the teeth. 
  • Root Planing. The second step in the process is root planing. This involves buffing the surface of the roots until they are smooth, which allows the gum tissue to reattach more firmly, preventing spaces for plaque to gather. 


Since the gum tissue must be pulled away from the teeth to access the roots, local anesthesia is used to prevent you from feeling any discomfort. This numbs the nerves in the area being cleaned so you most likely won’t feel anything other than some mild pressure. 

Average Length of a Scaling and Root Planing Procedure

The time it takes for a deep cleaning of your teeth depends on your individual needs. If all of your teeth need to be cleaned, the procedure may be divided into multiple appointments. A deep cleaning can take 2-3 hours in total depending on the amount of plaque and calculus buildup. 

Deep Cleaning Frequency  

For some patients a single deep cleaning may be all that is needed to eliminate gum disease and prevent it from recurring. But in many cases the procedure will need to be repeated on a regular schedule for a year or more. Periodontal maintenance plans are designed to provide deep cleanings on a schedule, usually about every 3-4 months. Patients who develop plaque at a faster rate may need more frequent scaling and root planing. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Scaling and Root Planing

Why is it necessary to have repeat scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing go a long way toward treating gum disease, but even after one cleaning, gum disease is very likely to persist. It may take a few deep cleanings over the course of a year or more to keep gum disease under control. 

Can damage from gum disease be reversed?

Chronic gum disease that goes untreated can cause damage to the jaw bone and receding gums. Teeth may even become loose and fall out. But the damage can be reversed with a variety of surgical periodontal procedures from gum grafting to pocket reduction. 


Scaling and root planing can be performed by a general dentist or a periodontist. Golia Dental provides scaling and root planing as part of our comprehensive dental services. You don’t need a referral to a periodontist unless your case requires specialized treatment. Regular periodontal maintenance is available for your convenience. 

To learn more, call 203-248-7400 or contact us today to schedule an appointment.