Scaling & Root Planing Post-Care

The goal of the procedure: Scaling & root planing (SRP) is a non-surgical treatment of periodontal disease (boneless around the tooth) to access, debride & clean the root surfaces of your teeth (in a way that’s not possible with a routine cleaning) to remove the bacterial plaque & tartar from around teeth & under the gum line that’s causing the bone loss. The procedure is considerably more involved than a standard cleaning. The goal is to produce clean, healthy teeth & roots, which will promote healing of the inflammation & infection that causes gum disease.

Things to keep in mind prior to your SRP:

This is not a typical dental cleaning. Your teeth are beyond a quick cleaning & now need periodontal intervention to stop the process of boneless.

SRP cannot and will not regenerate lost bone, but the goal is to stop the disease process so that no further boneless occurs.

You will be locally numbed for your procedure meaning that the area your hygienist will be working on will be anaesthetized.

Most patients do great with local numbness only, but if you feel anxious, we can administer nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) sedation for an additional fee.  If you would prefer nitrous, it is best to let your hygienist and/or the scheduling team know your wishes in advance to ensure the proper equipment is available for your appointment.  Nitrous is entirely reversible so you won’t need a driver for your appointment. If you are extremely dental anxious, we may be able to offer you a light RX anti-anxiety medication to help.  Please note, you’d need to pick this script up in person at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment, and you’d need to arrange a driver to transport you to and from the appointment.

This kind of deep cleaning is typically done in quadrants (upper right, lower right, upper left, lower left), so it may take 2-4 appointments depending upon the severity of your case & your preferences for care.

You may want to plan your post procedural menu accordingly so you’re prepared for a light healing phase afterward. Please read the below post-care instructions for more information.

You will be unable to eat immediately following your appointment since you will still feel numb (see below after care instructions), so do not miss a meal prior to your appointment.

After care

It is normal to have soreness & increased bleeding in your gums for 2-4 days after the procedure. Do not be alarmed if this is the case – it will resolve itself.  Discomfort may last longer depending on your individual pain levels & the severity of your case.

OTC pain relievers work well. Take ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) unless there’s personal medical contraindications.

Rinsing to speed healing: To help soothe the area, rinse your mouth 2-3 times a day with warm salt water rinses. If you were prescribed Peridex/Chlorhexidine or any other topical mouth rinse, use this as directed. Avoid the use of alcohol based mouthwashes in the first 1-5 days after SRP. The alcohol can irritate healing tissues, or honestly tissues in general. Avoid them when possible actually unless otherwise suggested by your dental professional.

Sensitivity is normal.  It is not unusual for the teeth to be more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, and/or sweets. This occurs as the gum tissue heals & shrinks in size. This should gradually resolve in 2-3 weeks with proper home care. Consistently brushing 2-3x daily with sensitive toothpaste or using fluoride rinses may alleviate this over time. Avoid toothpastes with “whitening” or baking soda, as this will contribute to the problem. If sensitivity continues or is severe, professional application of a desensitizing agent may be required.  It should be noted that depending on your insurance plan, this may be an out-of-pocket procedure, so be sure to use the any suggested oral medicaments (Prevident Sensitive paste available only through your dental professional) as a prescription level paste is amazing for tooth sensitivity.

Eating after your procedure: Avoid eating anything on the area being treated for two hours or until your numbness has worn off completely. It is easy to bite or burn your cheek, tongue or lip while numb. Avoid hard foods (like tortilla chips, potato chips, popcorn, or seeds) for the next several days.

No smoking! Refrain from smoking for 24-48 hrs after your procedure as tobacco will delay healing of the tissues. Smoking cessation is highly recommended as smoking is a huge contributing factor to periodontal disease.

Resume your home care regimen of brushing 2x a day with a soft bristled toothbrush & daily flossing immediately, but be gentle with the area recently treated for the first 1-3 days. After that resume your normal brushing. The use of some kind of inter-dental cleaning device is important to resolve your gum issues. Floss is traditional. Use it if you have good daily habits & are proficient at it. If you are not, then try an interdental pic or water flosser (we keep both is stock at the office for your convenience & online). In many ways, they are faster and easier to use – the result being that patients will actually do it more. We have found that non-traditional flossing is a game changer for those with periodontal disease issues. Brushing thought: If you get the gumline clean, you will get your teeth clean. But if you just brush your teeth (ignoring the gumline) you may miss most everything that is important. Think gumline as you brush! Your gum health must be maintained with proper home care, as instructed, AND regular dental visits.

Step up your homecare: A pro-level electric brush (we suggest Oral-B Pro Genius) & WaterPik are strongly recommended for periodontal patients as it is more difficult to keep areas of boneless clean, but also far more critical. We keep both in stock. You can pick them up in the office or online by clicking on either. We can supply the proper paperwork so that you may file the purchases with you HSA/FSA.


What you can expect after healing: You can expect to notice less redness, less bleeding, & less swelling of your gum tissues. Your teeth may feel smoother. Your mouth will taste & feel better. The gums will ideally begin to tighten, shrinking the periodontal pockets you have. As things heal, this tissue tightening/healing may expose more of your roots than you are accustomed to seeing. This is normal.

Continuing care: We will look forward to seeing you for your regular periodontal maintenance to keep up with what we just accomplished together. We will normally see you more frequently (3-4 timers per year) during the first 12-18 months following SRP. This is done so to insure a complete & positive response to treatment. Note that if you have dental insurance, most plans cover two of these visits per year meaning anything over will be out-of-pocket for you. If warranted & if things improve, we may lengthen your recall interval or otherwise customize a cleaning schedule appropriate for your new needs.

Our goal is to insure a resolution of the disease process to prevent any additional deterioration of the gum tissue & bone that support your teeth. Feel free to ask us questions at any time during your periodontal treatment, or call the office to speak with your hygienist! We’re here to help.



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