Persistent Gum Disease? You May Need A Root Scaling Procedure

Redness, soreness, and bleeding -- these are all signs of gum disease. In many cases, you can clear up gum disease on your own with some more vigilant brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use. But if you've been great about your dental hygiene for a couple of weeks and your gum disease symptoms are not subsiding, you may need professional treatment. Often, the first treatment your dentist will recommend will be a root scaling procedure.

What is root scaling?

Root scaling is essentially a "deep" dental cleaning. Your dental hygienist, sometimes with guidance from your dentist, will use special tools to clean the base of your teeth along the gum line, along with the area slightly under the gums. Cleaning this area removes oral bacteria, which are the cause of gum disease. Once your root scaling is complete, you'll have an easier time clearing up your gum disease symptoms. After the treatment, you'll still need to brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly.

Does root scaling hurt?

Root scaling can be painful, especially considering that your gums are sore and inflamed from the gum disease. However, your dentist will either administer a local anesthetic or use a numbing cream to ensure you don't experience discomfort during the procedure. Your gums will feel sore once the numbing agent wears off, but if you stick to soft foods for a few days and maybe take a dose of pain reliever every few hours for a day or two, the pain should soon subside.

What if root scaling does not cure your gum disease?

If you have a very serious case of gum disease, root scaling alone many not be enough to cure it. Your dentist may still start with this procedure and then observe your progress in the days that follow in order to determine what the best "next step" may be. Common next steps include:

  • Antibiotics: Either topical or oral antibiotics may be prescribed to help your body fight the bacteria that are causing the infection.

  • Gum grafts: Tissue from the roof of your mouth may be surgically grafted to your gums to replace tissue that has been badly damaged by gum disease.

  • Pocket reduction procedures: Deep pockets in your gums that are catching food particles and oral bacteria may be surgically removed.

If you have gum disease that won't budge, speak to your dentist about root scaling. This procedure effectively cures gum disease for many patients, and if it does not completely cure your problem, your dentist will make additional recommendations. For more information, check out