Cleaning / Deep Scaling

If plaque and tartar are left on the teeth, the right conditions exist for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums, which means that they bleed more easily. You may notice this if you are brushing your teeth, or eating, and sometimes your gums may bleed a bit. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis.

If you have gingivitis, Dr. Horowitz or his hygienist will clean your teeth by scaling and polishing them. They may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine or other active products, and show you how to brush and floss your teeth effectively. Most adults have some degree of gum disease.

If gingivitis not treated, the inflammation can work its way down towards the foundations of the tooth causing a “periodontal pocket”. In this area, the conditions are such that the bacteria can have a party and cause more damage. Gum disease can break down the supporting structures of the teeth (bone and gum), so that eventually, they will become loose. The problem is that until it gets quite severe, the person often has no symptoms. Sadly, the damage to the support structures of the teeth is irreversible without intervention by the periodontist. The good news is that if gum disease is caught in time, its progression can be halted and improved upon, and that is the key.

What is the difference between an ordinary cleaning and deep cleaning? There is some confusion about the difference between scaling and root planing. Scaling is basically the process of removing dental tartar from the surfaces of the teeth. Root planing is the process of smoothing the root surfaces and removing any infected tooth structure where the bacteria and tartar were residing below the gum line. If you have gum disease, the deeper gum pockets around the teeth will allow tartar deposits to form under the gum line. The two processes tend to blur together since during the cleaning process, the hygienist or periodontist scales away tartar and performs any necessary root planing at the same time. Any roughness can be planed away to result in a smooth surface minimizing the ability for bacteria to reside there.

Robert A. Horowitz, DDS

Periodontics | Laser Therapy | Dental Implants


2 Overhill Rd, Suite 270
Scarsdale, NY 10583


Monday, 8 AM-6 PM
Tuesday, 8 AM-6 PM
Wednesday, 8 AM-1 PM
Thursday, 8 AM-5 PM


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