Root planing and scaling is a dental procedure where your hygienist cleans hard accumulations of tartar from between your teeth and below your gumline. This is not to be confused with a dental cleaning (prophylaxis) which focuses on the top (crowns) of your teeth.
Quite often an ultrasonic instrument is used to break up the hard tartar and hand scalers follow to "fine tune" the root surfaces. Local anesthetic is administered to keep you comfortable through the procedure. Antibiotics may be prescribed for after the procedure.
Root planing and scaling is a great first step in fighting the early stages of periodontal disease and bone loss. This procedure along with your improved home care and compliance can stop the progression of periodontal disease. Your decision to address this problem at the earliest stage may eliminate the need for periodontal surgery.