What is Teeth Scaling: A Beginner’s Guide to Deep Dental Cleanings

what is teeth scalingWhat is teeth scaling?

Most people know what to expect when they visit the dentist for a regular dental cleaning. However, when patients visit the dentist for a deep cleaning, they are often going in for a tooth scaling and root planning. So, what is teeth scaling anyway?

Teeth scaling is the process of removing plaque and calculus from below the gumline. This type of deep cleaning is often paired with root planing, which smooths the tooth root and helps the gums re-attach to the tooth.

While the thought of a “deep dental cleaning” may sound nice, teeth scaling isn’t recommended for everyone. Generally, those showing signs of chronic periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) are candidates for teeth scaling. By reducing the pockets that form between their gums and teeth, teeth scaling and root planing can alleviate the symptoms of gum disease and reduce the risk of tooth, bone, and tissue loss.

What happens during teeth scaling?

Dental scaling is performed at a dentist’s office as an outpatient procedure, and this procedure is usually broken up into two appointments.

Typically, a local anesthetic will be used to lessen the discomfort of the procedure.

After a local anesthetic has been administered, your hygienist will start the dental scaling process. This process involves scraping the calculus from your teeth, and from any pockets that may have formed between the gums and teeth.

After scaling your teeth, the dentist will move to a root planning, which is when the roots of the teeth are smoothed using a scaling tool. This process is done in hopes that your gums reattach to your teeth, resulting in smaller pockets.

What should you expect after a teeth scaling?

After a deep cleaning, you may feel some pain or discomfort for a day or two. Your gums may also be swollen and tender. This is normal!

You may also notice an increased sensitivity to temperature. After removal of the calculus on the root surface, the root will initially be more exposed and can result in some sensitivity. This is also normal, and will normally subside in a short time.

Your dentist may also recommend a follow-up appointment. During this appointment, they will make sure that the tooth scaling process was successful and that you have not developed an infection. If the pockets have not shrunk, or healing has not gone as expected, your dentist may recommend another procedure.

After a successful deep dental cleaning, it is typical to receive cleanings more frequently to ensure continuous oral health, but you will be able to resume normal oral care procedures—brushing twice daily and flossing.


Temple Family Dentistry is a private dentistry practice that has been servicing the Temple, PA community for several decades. We pride ourselves on making our patients feel at home in our dentist’s office from the moment they walk through our doors. Dr. Dan and his team provide much more than basic dental care. In addition to your bi-annual cleanings, we also offer extractions, root canals, dental implants, dentures, and more, based on your individualized treatment plan. You will never feel like a number here, and we are happy to take the time needed to answer your questions and ensure your satisfaction. For your convenience, we offer flexible hours and accept same-day appointments for dental emergencies.