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  • Writer's pictureLeande Kotze

When is Tooth Scaling and Root Debridement Necessary? A Guide from Dr. Leande Kotze

Hello, dental enthusiasts! Dr. Leande Kotze here, a Periodontist and Oral Medicine specialist dedicated to helping you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. Today, I want to discuss the importance of tooth scaling and root debridement (deep cleaning) in the treatment and management of periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss and other oral health issues if not treated effectively. Tooth scaling and root debridement are essential components of periodontal therapy, but when do you actually need these procedures? Let's explore the topic further.

Understanding Periodontitis:

Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the gums and other supporting structures of the teeth. It begins with the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, which hardens into tartar if not removed through daily brushing and flossing. Over time, the bacteria in plaque and tartar cause inflammation, leading to gum recession, bone loss, and ultimately, tooth loss.

Signs that you may have periodontitis include:

Red, swollen, or bleeding gums

Persistent bad breath

Gum recession

Loose teeth

Tooth sensitivity

Pain when chewing

If you notice any of these signs, it's crucial to visit your dentist or periodontist to assess your oral health and determine the appropriate course of action.

Tooth Scaling and Root Debridement: An Essential Part of Periodontal Therapy

Tooth scaling and root debridement are often referred to as "deep cleaning." These procedures aim to remove plaque and tartar deposits from the teeth and root surfaces, allowing the gums to heal and reattach to the teeth. Here's when you may need these treatments:

Presence of deep periodontal pockets: Pockets are spaces that form between the gum and tooth as a result of gum inflammation. A pocket depth of 4mm or more is typically an indication that scaling and root debridement are necessary.

Persistent inflammation: If your gums continue to be red, swollen, and bleed despite regular dental cleanings and proper oral hygiene, your periodontist may recommend tooth scaling and root debridement to address the issue more aggressively.

Signs of bone loss: Early detection of bone loss is crucial to prevent further damage. If X-rays reveal bone loss around your teeth, scaling and root debridement can help remove the bacterial deposits and halt the progression of the disease.

Inadequate response to non-surgical treatments: If your periodontal health does not improve with non-surgical treatments such as scaling and root debridement, your periodontist may opt for surgical root debridement to control the disease more effectively.

As part of periodontal maintenance: For patients with a history of periodontitis, regular periodontal evaluations and tooth scaling is necessary to maintain good oral health and prevent disease recurrence.


Tooth scaling and root debridement are essential tools in the fight against periodontitis. If you suspect that you may have periodontal disease or if you or a family member have a history of gum problems, consult with your dentist or periodontist to determine if these procedures are right for you. Remember, early detection and intervention are key to preserving your oral health and keeping your smile bright for years to come.

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