The term “scaling” refers to the removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) from the supragingival region (above the gum line). This treatment is usually conducted in the course of a routine professional cleaning, and performed under local anesthetic.
Root planing usually accompanies scaling and is performed in the subgingival region (below the gum line). Tartar and toxins are initially removed, and then the tooth root is smoothed down to promote good healing in the gum tissue. The planing of the tooth root provides a smooth area which prevents bacteria from recolonizing. If these procedures do not completely eradicate the infection, surgical measures may be required.