Board Certified Periodontist, Dr. Scott O. Kissel

Scaling and Root Planing

Have you recently had a visit to your dentist, only to discover that you have gum disease? If so, he or she may have referred you to Dr. Kissel’s office for scaling and root planing, a non-surgical procedure to treat gum disease and stop it dead in its tracks. But, what is gum disease? What’s scaling and root planing? Does it hurt? Read on to learn more about your upcoming treatment with Dr. Kissel.

Graphic of Tooth and Gums Before Perioscopy
Graphic of Tooth and Gums During Perioscopy
Graphic of Tooth and Gums After Perioscopy

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an oral infection caused by the bacteria that naturally occurs in our mouth. When you brush twice daily, floss your teeth daily, and have regular, bi-annual dental cleanings, you are typically able to control the growth of bacteria in your mouth on your own. However, some people, either due to oral hygiene practice, habits like smoking, other medical conditions or genetics will develop gingivitis, the first step of gum disease. With gingivitis, your gums become inflamed, red and swollen and can bleed easily. If caught by your dentist, regular brushing, flossing, and having bi-annual dental cleanings by a dental hygienist can reverse gingivitis easily.


If gingivitis is not treated, however, it can turn into periodontitis. With periodontitis, your gums begin to pull away from your teeth, causing pockets to form around the teeth that become infected. Your body will recognize the bacteria growing below the gum line and will attempt to fight it. However, as a side effect of this immune system response, your body will also fight the infected connective tissue and jawbone, resulting in bone loss. Only a scaling and root planing by a qualified periodontist can stop this response and get rid of the harmful oral bacteria for good.

I Understand That I Need Scaling and Root Planing. What’s the Procedure Like?

Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure to rid your teeth of the harmful bacteria that cause periodontitis. It is performed in Dr. Kissel’s office, and you will be offered anesthesia to numb your gums and teeth during the procedure.


thought of as two different procedures: scaling is performed to rid your mouth of all bacteria and toxins, especially from your teeth and roots, and root planing is performed to smooth over your roots’ surfaces, making it harder for plaque to stick to the roots in the future.

Scaling and Root Planing Using a Perioscope

Traditional scaling and root planing, which is the standard level of care for periodontal disease, is a blind procedure! With the traditional process, periodontists are not able to see the tartar on the root. This means that it is not very effective at removing plaque, tartar, and bacteria. However, Dr. Kisser is one of the few periodontists who use the Perioscope to conduct scaling and root planing.


The Perioscope is a powerful dental endoscope/microscope that can display a magnified image (24-48x) on a video screen, allowing him to clearly see any tartar you may have directly on the root of the affected tooth in large detail. He can then precisely and proficiently remove the tartar in a more efficient and thorough manner. Using traditional periodontal instruments, up to 30% of tooth surfaces can still have tartar – which means you’re still at risk of your case of periodontal disease progressing. This significantly limits the goal of non-surgical pocket reduction and generally leads to the recommendation for surgical treatment in the future. Traditional surgical techniques often result in significant gum tissue recession, loss of gum tissue between teeth (which is often unsightly and a food trap), and root sensitivity.

Does Scaling and Root Planing Hurt?

Dr. Kissel knows that many patients are fearful of dental procedures, so he understands that some of his scaling and root planing patients are afraid the procedure will hurt. Rest assured, your comfort during your scaling and root planing procedure is one of our top priorities. To make sure you are as comfortable as possible, you will be offered anesthesia to numb your gums and teeth. While this anesthesia shot may be slightly uncomfortable, most patients describe it as an unpleasant, yet bearable “pinch” and afterward are fully numb for their scaling and root planing procedure.

After Your Scaling and Root Planing Procedure

After your scaling and root planing procedure is complete, you will be scheduled for a series of aftercare visits with Dr. Kissel. These regular checkups are important to keep because they check your mouth’s progress of healing from periodontitis and returning to a normal, healthy state. During these checkups in Dr. Kissel’s office, he will check the status of your gums and your pockets, looking for signs that your gum inflammation is going away and that your pockets are shrinking. The good news is that for most scaling and root planing patients, your gums will return to a healthy pink and will reattach to your teeth on their own, without the need for additional, surgical intervention.

How Do I Care for My Teeth After a Scaling and Root Planing Procedure?

If you’ve had a scaling and root planing procedure performed, it’s important that you follow proper oral healthcare hygiene after your treatment to prevent the periodontitis from returning. This means that you should:

I’m Ready to Book My Root Planing and Scaling Appointment. What Do I Do Next?

If you’ve been told you need root planing and scaling, or a deep cleaning, then the best thing you can do is call us today to make an appointment or book online. Contact our office at 212-702-9088.