Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a procedure to remove calculus (tartar) deposits underneath the gums and on the root surfaces of the teeth. This procedure may be indicated if it has been a long time since your last cleaning or you have developed gum disease. A local anesthetic may be used to help make the procedure comfortable for you. An antibiotic powder may be placed in the pockets underneath your gums to help with healing and prevent infection.
Calculus (tartar) on the root surfaces of the teeth causes inflammation in the gum tissues. Over time, this inflammation results in the loss of bone support for the teeth. This process is a bacterial infection that can jeopardize the teeth if left untreated. The same bacteria that cause this gum disease can also cause heart problems.
Some dentists and dental hygienists will use an ultrasonic tool for the planing and scaling. It is a gentle, less traumatic method of removing some hard deposits as well as flushing out bacteria. This tool is not as uncomfortable as a standard scraping tool, but not all cleanings require this type of tool.
Also see...Dental Cleaning