Scaling and Root Planing to Remove Bacteria

Scaling And Root Planing Alexandria, VA

Periodontal scaling and root planing are performed on patients who need bacteria and plaque removal that goes beyond traditional cleaning. Patients who have not had a professional dental cleaning in a long time or who have difficulty keeping up with proper hygiene techniques often develop plaque and tarter than can no longer be removed through brushing and flossing. Long-term build-up leads to inflammation of the gums and can cause health problems throughout the body. 

Removal of bacteria through scaling and root planing

Removing excess plaque and tartar can both correct current periodontal issues and prevent future damage. Patients who have advanced build-up and irritation on the teeth and gums may experience symptoms but may also decide to pursue treatment for mainly aesthetic reasons. 

Who needs scaling and root planing? 

Patients who receive a scaling or root planing procedure are either concerned about the health of the mouth or the appearance of the teeth. When tartar and plaque increase on the surfaces of the teeth and underneath the gum line, bacteria begin to overgrow and inflammation of the gums worsens. The resulting periodontal disease can have an impact on the patient's overall health, leading to concerns with heart and lung disease. Excess plaque, bacteria and gingivitis can also lead to an unattractive smile and bad breath. 

What does the process involve? 

Deep cleaning using scaling and root planing is a multi-step process with the dual goals of removing the current problem and preventing a reoccurrence in the future:

  • The dentist examines the teeth and gums to observe the areas of most concern. X-rays may be taken for further analysis. 
  • Teeth scaling involves the removal of plaque from both the surfaces of the teeth and the root areas underneath the gums. Hardened plaque may need to be removed with a specialized ultrasonic dental instrument. 
  • As plaque is removed at the roots, antibacterial irrigation flows over the root surfaces to reduce bacteria and help prevent future bacterial overgrowth. 
  • During root planing, the roots of the teeth are smoothed using dental tools that remove the surface of the root. Removal of the surface also removes colonized bacteria and discourages new bacterial growth. 
  • In some cases, oral antibiotics are also prescribed after the scaling and root planing processes are complete. 

What are the benefits? 

The primary advantage of scaling and root planing is the removal of accumulated plaque on the surface of the teeth and roots and the reduction of bacterial overgrowth underneath the gums. Healthy teeth and gums improve oral health, reduce the risk of related health concerns and improve the appearance of the smile. Patients suffering from chronic halitosis can also experience improvements after this procedure. 


Some plaque and tartar build-up cannot be solved by improving home dental health or through traditional dental cleaning processes. Scaling and root planing are sometimes necessary to remove thickened plaque accumulation and excessive bacterial colonization. These procedures can improve both oral health and aesthetic concerns in the short term and prevent future dental issues from occurring. 

Request an appointment here: or call Alexandria Old Town Dental at (703) 763-1078 for an appointment in our Alexandria office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Root Scaling and Planing in Alexandria, VA.

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