What does scaling teeth mean?

Is scaling teeth painful?

Is scaling teeth really necessary?

If your dentist recommends that you get a dental scaling procedure, you may be asking these questions.

Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a dental procedure that hygienists use to treat gum disease. It’s similar to a cleaning, except that the hygienist focuses specifically on removing bacteria from your gum tissue.

For those with gum disease (periodontitis), a SRP procedure is necessary to restore tooth health and lower the risk of more serious oral issues.

Do you want to learn more about how teeth scaling works?

In this article, we’re providing expert insight into the world of scaling and root planing. You’ll get an answer to “What is teeth scaling and root planing?” and learn about the benefits of scaling teeth.

Common Questions About a Scaling Teeth Cleaning

When it comes to scaling and root planing (SRP), people often have many questions and aren’t sure how teeth scaling works.

Here are the top questions and answers regarding the dental scaling procedure to help you understand SRP.

What Does Scaling Teeth Mean in Dentistry?

One of the first questions people have when they hear “scaling and root planing” is, “What is teeth scaling?”

The dental scaling procedure refers to a hygienist using a metal tool to scrape plaque and bacteria from the surface of teeth. Sound like a familiar process?

Whether you’ve realized it or not, your hygienist performs scaling every time you attend a regular cleaning. However, when it comes to a scaling and root planing procedure, descaling teeth often refers to a deeper cleaning in the gums than with a routine cleaning. 

When bacteria builds up on teeth and isn’t removed regularly through good oral hygiene, it can seep deeper into gum tissue and pull the gums away from teeth. So, the goal of a scaling teeth cleaning is to remove this excess bacteria from your gum tissue so that it can reattach to your tooth.

That’s a very general overview of SRP, so now let’s look at the specifics of how teeth scaling works

What’s Involved in the Actual SRP Process? 

Teeth scaling and root planing is also referred to as a “deep cleaning” because hygienists focus solely on cleaning deep in the gum tissue around your teeth.

But what does that process look like?

The scaling and root planing procedure is a two-step process. Here’s how scaling teeth works and what the root planing process involves.


Descaling teeth is the first step in the scaling and root planing process. 

Like a routine cleaning, your hygienist will use a metal tool to scrape plaque and bacteria off your teeth. But unlike a regular cleaning, a scaling teeth cleaning requires your hygienist to scrape bacteria out from under the gum tissue. They’ll clean in between your teeth and gums to remove any bacteria.

This scaling process creates a clean space so your gum tissue can reattach to your tooth.

Once your hygienist completes the scaling part, they’ll move onto root planing.

Root Planing

Root planing is the second step of the SRP process. It involves the hygienist inserting a metal tool into your gums and smoothing out the tooth. 

Smoothing out the tooth allows the gums to more easily and properly reattach to the tooth.

Following your SRP procedure, your hygienist will most likely have you schedule a follow-up appointment so they can make sure the procedure was successful. It’s also beneficial to increase the frequency of your routine check ups and maintain good oral hygiene at home in order to not have to repeat another SRP appointment.

Is Scaling Teeth Painful?

There can be some pain, sensitivity, and discomfort with an SRP procedure.

Often, hygienists will use a local anesthetic to numb the area that they’re working on. You can always talk to your hygienist about alternatives if you have questions or concerns about pain relief.

In addition, you may experience some pain or discomfort in your teeth and gums following the procedure. The pain or sensitivity often dissipates within a few days to a week.

What are the Benefits of Teeth Scaling?

The dental scaling procedure is incredibly beneficial.

Every time we eat or drink, plaque forms on teeth and bacteria get stuck on these plaque. Regularly brushing and flossing can remove most of these plaque. However, there are instances when it’s difficult to remove plaque and bacteria. 

If you don’t get rid of plaque and bacteria, it can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and eventually tooth loss.

When hygienists use a metal tool for a scaling teeth cleaning, they can more precisely and forcefully remove plaque from hard-to-reach places. 

So, one of the main benefits of teeth scaling is that it keeps plaque and bacteria from negatively affecting teeth in the long run.  

Is Scaling Teeth Really Necessary?

Yes, scaling teeth is absolutely necessary!

We just mentioned in the previous section that one of the major benefits of a scaling teeth cleaning is that it helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

In addition, scaling and root planing is the only way for individuals with gum disease (periodontitis) to restore tooth and gum health. If people with periodontitis don’t get treatment, they may require more dental procedures down the road or lose teeth altogether.

So, when the hygienist scrapes your teeth with a metal tool during a cleaning, they’re keeping your teeth healthy. And if your hygienist says you have gum disease and recommends you schedule an SRP procedure, you should highly consider their suggestion.

Complete Dental Care in Richmond, VA

When it comes to scaling teeth cleaning, there can be a lot of unknowns. However, it’s a beneficial procedure that’s key to good oral health.

What is teeth scaling? It’s the process hygienists use to scrape plaque and bacteria off of teeth. And when people have gum disease, it helps restore gum and tooth health.

Is scaling teeth painful? There can be some pain and discomfort involved in a scaling and root planing procedure, but hygienists can administer a local anesthetic to numb the affected area.

What are the benefits of teeth scaling? Teeth scaling removes plaque and bacteria from the surface of teeth. For people with gum disease, it removes bacteria in their gums and creates a clean space for gums to reattach to teeth. Ultimately, descaling teeth keeps them clean and healthy!

Is scaling teeth really necessary? Yes, teeth scaling is a great supplement to regular brushing and flossing that ensures plaque and bacteria don’t negatively affect teeth. It’s also a necessary procedure to restore gum and tooth health in those with severe gum disease.

Now that you have an answer to “What does scaling teeth mean?”, are you ready to get the dental care you’ve been looking for?

At Northside Dental Co. in Richmond, VA, we offer a comprehensive list of professional dental services for kids, teens, and adults. We accept most major insurance plans and also have a Membership Savings Plan for those without insurance. So whether you need a routine cleaning, an SRP procedure, or any other dental treatment, we’re here for you!

Schedule your appointment online today to ensure your smile is healthy and bright.