Root Planning & Curettage (Gum Treatment)

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Root Planning & Curettage (Gum Treatment)


What is it?

Root planing is 'deep' scaling to clean parts of the teeth behind the gum-line, which cannot be reached with a toothbrush.

Gums can become diseased so that they look red and puffy. They will probably bleed when you brush. Painless gum 'pockets' start to form around the teeth and bone supporting the teeth is slowly lost.

Root planing cleans out these pockets and removes plaque and hard tartar from the tooth roots. It takes longer than a scale and polish and is often done under local anaesthetic. Your mouth might be treated in sections, at more than one visit.

What does the dentist or the dental hygienist do?

Dentists and hygienists use two types of tool for root planing.

  • To reach different parts of the teeth there are hard scalers come in different sizes and shapes. This is why you see them changing them quite often.
  • Electric scalers vibrate very fast with water. The water is removed from your mouth using suction. A hand scaler is used to check whether the roots are completely clean.

After a tooth has been root planed, the pocket should shrink, making the gum slit closer to the tooth. You then need to be especially careful about cleaning the teeth above the gum-line. Root planing will probably need to be repeated regularly.

What are the benefits?

  • Gum disease will get worse and because it's painless, it can become very bad without you noticing. When there is not enough supporting bone left, teeth become loose and eventually have to be taken out. Root planing can prevent gum disease becoming worse and therefore avoid tooth loss.
  • Like scaling and polishing, root planing helps you to keep your teeth and gums clean at home. Dentists and dental hygienists cannot keep your mouth healthy by themselves. Your own cleaning is just as important.