Scaling and Root Planing in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, MD

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Restore the Health of Your Gums

scaling and root planing diagram

Periodontal disease can wreak havoc on your gum tissues and endanger your oral and overall health. At Smiles of Chevy Chase, led by Dr. Despina Markogiannakis, serving the Bethesda and Chevy Chase area, our dedicated team of dental professionals offers a range of periodontal dentistry services to ensure your gums and teeth remain healthy. One of the key treatments we provide is scaling and root planing, a highly effective procedure designed to combat gum disease and promote a healthier smile. Keep reading to learn more about scaling and root planing treatment and how you may benefit, or schedule your consultation by dialing 301-652-0656.

What Is Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and root planing, often referred to as dental deep cleaning, refers to two non-surgical periodontal treatments aimed at removing plaque and tartar buildup from around the gums and below the gumline. These procedures are crucial in managing and treating more advanced stages of gum disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to severe oral health problems, such as tooth loss.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

The best way to utilize scaling and root planing for gum disease treatment is to treat it in the earliest stages, or during the gingivitis phase. Be sure to contact Smiles of Chevy Chase for scaling and root planing by dialing 301-652-0656 if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding Gums: One of the most common signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums, especially when you brush or floss your teeth. Healthy gums should not bleed during routine oral care.
  • Redness and Swelling: Gingivitis can cause your gum tissue to become red, tender, and swollen. Healthy gums should have a pale pink color and feel firm to the touch.
  • Bad Breath (Halitosis): Persistent bad breath that doesn't improve with regular oral hygiene practices can be a sign of early gum disease. Bacteria in the mouth contribute to foul odors.
  • Receding Gums: Gingivitis may cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, leading to gum recession. This can make your teeth appear longer and expose the tooth roots.
  • Sensitive Teeth: Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures can be a symptom of early gum disease, as exposed tooth roots become more sensitive.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Gums affected by gingivitis can be painful or uncomfortable, particularly when pressure is applied during brushing or eating.

Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing

scaling and root planing diagram

When patients undergo scaling and root planing, they can receive the following benefits:

  • Improved Gum Health: Scaling and root planing effectively combat gum disease, reducing inflammation, bleeding, and tenderness.
  • Prevention of Tooth Loss: By addressing gum disease promptly, you can prevent the loss of teeth that may result from severe periodontal problems.
  • Enhanced Smile Aesthetics: A healthier gum line and cleaner teeth lead to a more attractive and confident smile.
  • Better Overall Health: Gum disease has been linked to systemic health issues, so treating it can positively impact your overall well-being.
  • Cost-Effective: Addressing periodontal disease in its early stages with treatments like scaling and root planing can prevent the need for more extensive and costly treatments in the future, such as gum surgeries, bone grafts, or even tooth replacements.
  • Halitosis Control: Gum disease and bacterial buildup can cause bad breath (halitosis). By removing the source of the infection, scaling and root planing can significantly reduce or eliminate this problem.

Who Qualifies for Root Planing and Scaling?

You may qualify for root planing and scaling if any of the following apply to you:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with gum disease
  • You have deep periodontal pockets (sulcus), deeper than three millimeters
  • You’re experiencing gum recession
  • You have excessive plaque and tartar buildup
  • You experience persistent gum inflammation and bleeding during brushing or flossing
  • Your X-rays or dental imaging reveals bone loss around the teeth
  • You have a history of gum disease and it keeps recurring

The Root Planing and Scaling Process

Initial Consultation

Before performing scaling and root planing, Dr. Markogiannakis will conduct a thorough examination of your gums to determine the extent of gum disease. X-rays may also be taken to assess the condition of the bone supporting your teeth. Your initial consultation is a great time to ask any questions you may have.


To ensure your comfort during the procedure, a local anesthetic may be applied to numb the affected area. This ensures that you experience minimal discomfort during the treatment. We can also provide sedation dentistry services to ensure relaxation and provide additional pain relief.


The first step involves scaling, where our skilled dental hygienists use specialized instruments to remove the accumulated plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces both above and below the gumline. This process helps eliminate the bacteria causing gum inflammation and infection.

Root Planing

After scaling, the root planing procedure is performed. This step smoothens the tooth roots, which helps prevent plaque and tartar from reattaching to the tooth surfaces.

Supplemental Procedures

If necessary, your treatment can be paired with ARESTIN, a locally applied antibiotic that directly addresses bacteria within the gum pockets following scaling and root planing.

Scaling and Root Planing Aftercare

scaling and root planing diagram

After your scaling and root planing treatment, make sure to do the following:

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth and gums clean.
  • Use Antiseptic Rinse: An antiseptic mouthwash can help reduce bacteria in your mouth.
  • Follow a Soft Diet: Stick to softer foods immediately after the procedure to avoid irritation.
  • Attend Follow-Up Appointments: Regular check-ups with Dr. Markogianankis are essential to monitor your gum health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age limit for scaling and root planing?

There’s no specific age limit for scaling and root planing. This procedure can benefit individuals of all ages who have gum disease. However, it's essential to consider overall health and any contraindications that may affect the decision to proceed with the treatment. Your dentist will evaluate your specific case to determine if scaling and root planing are appropriate for you.

How long does the scaling and root planing process take?

On average, scaling and root planing takes one to two hours to complete. However, the exact duration varies depending on the severity of the gum disease. Your dentist will be able to give you a more accurate breakdown based on your unique case.

Can scaling and root planing be done if I have dental implants?

Yes, scaling and root planing can be performed on individuals with dental implants. While implants themselves are not susceptible to gum disease, the surrounding gum tissues still need proper care. Your dentist will take care to avoid damaging the implant and focus on cleaning the gum tissue and natural teeth.

How often should scaling and root planing be done?

Typically, scaling and root planing treatment may be recommended every six months to two years. The exact frequency of your treatment will depend on your specific oral health needs and how severe your case is.

Discover the Path to Healthier Gums and a Brighter Smile with Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing at Smiles of Chevy Chase offers a comprehensive solution for gum disease. This non-surgical procedure not only restores your oral health but also enhances your smile's appearance and your overall well-being.

If you have any questions or are concerned about your gum health, don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with our experienced team by dialing 301-652-0656. Dr. Markogiannakis offers scaling and root planing treatment to patients in the greater Washington area, including Chevy Chase and surrounding areas such as Bethesda, Somerset, and Forest Hills, MD. Your journey to healthier gums and a brighter smile begins here.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.