If you have gum disease (periodontitis), your dentist may recommend a dental procedure called dental scaling. This will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and help your gums regain health. The scaling process is usually done in conjunction with a procedure known as root planing.
During the teeth scaling process, your dentist or dental hygienist will numb the gums and tooth roots with a local anesthesia, but teeth scaling and root planing cause very little discomfort. Your dentist or dental hygienist will use specialized tools to remove the hardened deposits of plaque buildup (tartar) from the teeth both above and below the gum line. Root planing involves smoothing rough spots on the roots of the teeth that can promote gum disease by trapping and holding bacteria.
The whole procedure may be done in a single visit, although generally a quadrant (1/4th of the mouth) or half of the mouth is recommended per appointment. After a scaling and planing, you can expect that your gums will be numb from the anesthesia and then possibly a little tender. But if you maintain a consistent oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily interdental cleaning, your gums should quickly regain a firm, healthy, pink appearance.
Be sure that your dentist or dental hygienist knows your total health history before he or she performs a scaling and root planing procedure. The procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, so precautions may need to be taken to treat gum disease in people who are at increased risk for infections, such as those with heart problems, liver disease or a compromised immune system due to an illness, such as HIV.