What's the Difference Between Deep Cleaning and Scaling and Root Planing?

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scaling and root planing

Scaling and root planing is a type of deep cleaning process. It may be necessary for the more than 47% of adults over 30 who suffer some degree of gum disease. Unfortunately, mild gum disease, called gingivitis, may not be evident until it develops into a more severe version called periodontitis, or periodontal disease. If you have any concerns, it's crucial to schedule a consultation with the experts at Bass River Dental in South Yarmouth, MA to guarantee the best outcome.

How can you know if you need a deep cleaning?

Gum disease is a sneaky ailment that may not present any apparent signs or symptoms in its early stages. So it's best to be vigilant with your dental care, schedule regular check-ups, and treat gum disease before it develops into the much more severe periodontal disease.

We also recommend you schedule a consultation at Bass River Dental in South Yarmouth, MA as soon as possible if you experience any of the following issues:

  • Recession of the gums or spaces forming between your teeth

  • Bleeding, swelling, reddening, or pain in the gums

  • Difficulties or pain while chewing

  • Bad breath, especially consistent or worsening bad breath

What causes periodontal disease?

Poor dental hygiene and improper cleaning habits are the most common causes of gum disease. Failure to regularly clean your teeth leads to an accumulation of plaque, a sticky bacterial coating that "colonizes" your teeth. And without proper dental care, this bacterial film builds up and spreads, turning sugars into tooth-decaying acids.

And as plaque accumulates, it creates inflammation, irritation, and infection in and around your gumline. In addition to causing discomfort, it forces the gums to retreat, exposing "pockets" or gaps between the teeth and gums, opening up even more real estate for bacteria-laden plaque.

The plaque hardens into tartar, causing yet more irritation and inflammation. Even more dangerous, the plaque and tartar migrate downward, filling the exposed gaps below the gumline. Once tartar breaches these lower levels, it damages the roots of your teeth, making periodontal disease the leading cause of tooth loss.

If allowed even more free rein, it can cause damage to the jawbone itself. And it gets worse—numerous studies have linked periodontitis with other major health issues, including cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, as well as some forms of dementia.

Scaling and root planing is a form of deep cleaning

Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a deep cleaning that targets the entire tooth, reaching down below the gumline to the roots. In the first step, scaling, we use a sonic cleaning device to comprehensively clean the entire tooth surface by removing plaque and tartar, including the sub-gumline accumulations that pose the gravest threats to your dental health.

Scaling is followed by root planing. Then, we carefully reach below the gumline to smooth the roots of the teeth, removing the bacteria-embedded cementum that covers the bottom of your teeth. The newly smoothed, cleaned surfaces at the bottom of your teeth are now clear of infection and allow a full re-attachment of the gums, restoring your gumline.

The SRP procedure can eliminate inflammation, tenderness, bleeding, bad breath, and other problems caused by periodontal disease. It can also help prevent tooth loss and future infections, which may spread to the jawbone and even travel through the bloodstream to affect other parts of your body, including the heart, lungs, and brain. SRP also provides an aesthetic boost by removing stains in the process.

Prolonged periodontitis also leads to chronic inflammation, contributing to the structural damage to your teeth, gums, and jawbone. Furthermore, a sustained, long-term inflammatory response has adverse effects throughout the body and exacerbates any existing conditions.

Contact us today for a brighter, healthier dental future


There's no need to suffer or risk further damage to your teeth, gums, and even jawbone, when a deep cleaning can easily and quickly protect and beautify your smile. And the sooner you act, the better your outlook, so book an appointment at Bass River Dental in South Yarmouth, MA to discover how our team can best help you!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.