When is root planing necessary

root planing

What is root planing?

Root planing is a non-surgical and painless periodontal therapy, performed under local anesthesia. It consists of removing plaque, tartar, and infected tissue stuck above and below the gum line.

When is root planing necessary?

Root planing is the initial treatment for gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the most common disease in the world. Their main cause is the dental plaque which is a soft deposit rich in aggressive bacteria. If the plaque is not removed, it becomes tartar which is more difficult to remove. When tartar begins to form below the gum line, it is called Subgingival calculus: a hard, brownish deposit that sticks tightly to the teeth.
Inflammation will occur and the gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. This is the stage where root planing is necessary to remove all deposits and obtain a healthy tooth surface.

Root planing can also be performed before a periodontal surgery to clean the surgical site to prevent infections during the act.

The benefits of root planing

Root planing helps stop periodontal disease and promotes healing of the gums by:

  • Removing the plaque and tartar which are the main causes of gum disease.
  • Reduction of aggressive bacteria and increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics, which is why they are always prescribed after root planing.
  • Removing the inflamed tissues and promoting gum healing.
  • Cleaning the teeth surface allowing the gum to attach to a clean and healthy root.

How is root planing done?

Root planing is often done in 4 sessions, each lasting 1h30 to 2 hours. It can be done alone or be combined with surgery.

Root planing aims to remove plaque and tartar below the gum line to stop periodontitis. It consists of introducing an instrument into the periodontal pockets under local anesthesia to remove all the debris. It can be followed by irrigating the pockets with an antiseptic solution.

When the periodontal pockets are too deep, root planing can be associated with surgery: this act consists of opening and spreading the gums, eliminating diseased tissue and then closing the gums with sutures.

After the treatment, antibiotics are prescribed and control sessions will be scheduled to monitor the healing progress.

What to expect after root planing?

After root planing, it is normal to feel discomfort in your gums or even a slight pain and your gums may bleed a little, these signs disappear after a few days.

The results show a decrease of the inflammation, a decrease in the periodontal pocket depth, and signs of healing including no more bleeding and return of the gums to their normal color which is pink.

Root planing limits

Sometimes root planing cant replaces the surgical treatment for various reasons:

  • The elimination of subgingival tartar is difficult especially in the case of a deep periodontal pocket.
  • Root planing will not bring any improvement for the patients who have bad habits and insufficient oral hygiene.
  • The duration of the maintenance period after the treatment can be long, the frequency of the sessions depends on the oral hygiene of the patient.

The success of treatment, therefore, depends on both the dentist and the patient.


Here are some tips that can help you reduce the discomfort after treatment and contribute to its success:

  • Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen can give you relief;
  • Eat soft foods to reduce postoperative discomfort;
  • Avoid consuming very hot or very cold foods or liquids and foods with peels that could get lodged under the gums (apple, popcorn, etc.).

It is recommended to use an extra soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth thoroughly. Antiseptic solutions prescribed by your dentist can speed up healing. Tooth sensitivity is also possible after root planing. Using a desensitizing toothpaste helps you reduce sensitivity to hot or cold. Strict oral hygiene (brushing twice a day and flossing or using an interdental brush once a day) must be maintained otherwise the results will not be satisfactory.