Is Scale and Root Planing Painful?

Is Scale and Root Planing Painful?

Scale and Root planing can be uncomfortable for sure, but not necessarily painful. If you have sensitive gums, gums which are withdrawn because of infection, or inflamed gums, this could make it painful. Speak with your dentist and discuss your concerns before your next visit. Learn about scale and root planing, and see if it is right for you.

What is Scaling and Root Planing?

We all have buildup on our teeth. The trick is to follow all the hygiene precautions available to use to remove the buildup. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can only do so much though. Your dentist will perform precise and comprehensive cleanings, but these cannot get to the plaque and tartar that has worked its’ way beneath your gums.


Scaling is a procedure where a metal tool, usually a scaler and dental curette, are gingerly worked underneath the teeth. Below the gumline, the tool hooks and scrapes hard material buildup housing bacteria. This bacteria infects and inflames the gum, causing them to shrink and expose the roots of teeth.

Sometimes, dentist may use an ultrasound device with a constant water stream and a metal tip. The metal piece helps chip away the hardened material, and the water stream provides a route to suction it out.

Root planing

Planing is when a surface is scraped or shaved to be smoother, its a woodworking term usually. In dentistry it involves a tool scraping the surface of the tooth root. When the surface is smooth, there are less pockets for material to build up or bacteria to fester. When the surface is smooth, it is also easier for the gums to reattach in a healthy manner. When the gums are flush against the teeth, there is less space for the bacteria to enter.

Does it Hurt?

The process can be uncomfortable but is not often marked as painful. However, it can be helpful, especially if you are anxious about it, to request a local anesthetic. Your dentist never wants to cause you pain, they are simply hoping to prove you the dental health your teeth require. If you are concerned about pain, the best person to talk to is your dentist.

How does plaque buildup under the gumline?

Plaque begins as food. All the moisture in your mouth lubricates your speech, swallowing, and supports the healthy tissues of your mouth. However, it also provides a path for bacteria and food particles to accumulate on the surface of teeth. Over time this slurry of food, bacteria, acids, and moisture finds its way to your gumline. Once it breaks the gumline, it creates more space for bacteria to follow, and over time hardens making it hard to remove.

Speak with your Dentist

If your dentist is recommending Scale and Root Planing, there is a good reason for it. Follow their guidance and give it a chance. It is in the best interest of your gums and teeth to follow proper hygiene and protect them.

What is Scale and Root Planing?