What is scaling and root planing? How much does deep cleaning cost?

Also referred to as scaling and root planing, a deep dental cleaning is performed to treat gum disease. It is often the only procedure needed. Since over half of American adults suffer from some form of periodontists, it is a common procedure at the dental office.

The aim of this is to remove bacteria and infection from the soft tissues around the gums. Inflammation goes down and teeth eventually have more support. Read the guide below to find out whether you might need SRP, what the procedure looks like, and how much it costs on average.

Signs you need deep teeth cleaning

Periodontal scaling and root planing is necessary if your probing session suggests you might have gum disease. It is not a routine procedure. Instead, preventative treatment such as a prophylaxis is recommended 1-2 times per year.

If you have not been to the dentist in a while, the calculus and plaque which would normally be removed migrate down below the gumline. The bacteria and their by-products gather around the tooth, infecting the gums and causing bone loss.

Symptoms you can look for yourself include:

  • bad breath or taste,
  • gums bleeding easily,
  • red, swollen, or tender gums,
  • gums pulled away from the teeth,
  • loose or separating teeth,
  • changes in the bite, and
  • partial dentures no longer fitting properly.

Scaling and root planing types

A deep dental cleaning can be preventive or therapeutic, but counter-intuitively, both deal with active periodontal disease. Other methods, commonly used by holistic dentists, include laser treatment.

Dr. Henry Hackney
Periodontal disease has a multitude of causes including, but not limited to, age, tobacco use, oral hygiene, and genetic predisposition.

If your periodontitis has not spread to more than 30% of your mouth, you may get away with preventive or localized SRP. Otherwise, you will be rescheduled for another appointment, after an oral exam.

Preventive SRP

Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a preventive treatment. This procedure is meant for those with active periodontal disease, and it’s the only one needed to treat it. In more complex cases time-release antibiotics might be injected to fight bacteria for a longer time.

Periodontal disease can be caused by not visiting the dentist for a cleaning regularly. Doing this at least twice a year could save you money.

Dr. Matthew Stewart
Generally SRP is done on one or two quadrants at a time. Most insurances and therefore most dentists do not do more than two per visit.

In terms of dental health, it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you get your teeth done at once, or over a longer period. Long-term effects are comparable. What’s more, not all of your teeth may need SRP.

Therapeutic SRP

If the patient displays moderate to severe inflammation on more than 30% of the mouth the SRP is no longer considered “preventive”. Symptoms of such a situation include swollen, bleeding, or inflamed gums.

In such a case the procedure can only be conducted after an oral examination, which could be an additional cost. A dentist must first assess what state the mouth is in.

Scaling and root planing procedure

The SRP procedure shouldn’t take more than 2 hours. It all depends on the severity of the problem and what portion of the mouth is being treated.

The process of a deep teeth cleaning may start out very similarly to that of a regular prophylaxis.

Preliminary chat

Any changes in your dental history or new medication should be reported to the dentist. After that, he or she will let you know what is going to happen step by step. An X-ray is likely to take place.

Periodontal charting/probing

The hygienist will use a special tool to measure the depth of your gum pockets. Healthy pockets should not be 4 mm or above.


If those pockets do turn out to be concerning, a radiograph will be taken. If it shows significant bone loss or calculus below the gums, scaling and root planing will be performed.


Some kind of anesthetic will most likely be used. This might be a local injection or a topical gel.


A hand-held scaler will be used to manually remove the plaque from the teeth and roots. An ultrasonic tool may be used to aid this process.

Root planing

The dental professional will use a rubbing motion to scrape off roughness from your roots. Those spots are where the bacteria reside.

Application of antibiotics

Time-release antibiotics might be applied to manage the inflammation in the gums. You will be given instructions on how to care for your mouth for the next few days or weeks.

Referral to a periodontist

Scaling and root planing effectiveness depends on patients maintaining or beginning to conduct proper oral hygiene and care.

In very extreme cases surgical treatment might be necessary. The patient is often, but not always, referred to a specialist.

A single deep cleaning procedure might take one to two hours. If the periodontitis has spread over a significant area in your mouth, the procedure might have to be stretched out over several appointments.

After the procedure is complete, you will have to wait four to six weeks before returning for a check-up. There might also be a follow-up appointment with a periodontist if the situation in your mouth does not improve or if your bone needs intervention.

SRP aftercare instructions

There are a few things to bear in mind after your scaling and root planing procedure.

Take ibuprofen if you feel sore after the procedure. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help heal your gums faster. Your mouth will feel numb after the anesthetic, so it’s easy to burn your mouth on hot food. Try to abstain from eating for at least 2 hours.

Use saltwater rinses 2-3 a day for a few days. This will help soothe your mouth. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush. You can also floss the night of the procedure. Use a water flosser if you have one.

You might feel sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures for a few days. Desensitizing toothpaste can help there. Avoid products with “whitening” properties and baking soda, as those can irritate the soft tissues in your mouth.

And lastly, do not smoke for 24-48 hours after your procedure. It can slow down healing significantly.

Scaling and root planing cost breakdown

Scaling and root planing costs $200-$300 on average. The biggest factor determining SRP price is whether you need preventive or therapeutic kind.

Preventive scaling and root planing (SRP) is charged per quadrant of the mouth, while therapeutic SRP is charged per the entire mouth.

The price is also dependent on whether a periodontist or a general dentist is performing the procedure.

Scaling and root planing type Average cost Cost range
Preventive, 1 to 3 teeth per quadrant $200 $150-$300
Preventive, 4 or more teeth per quadrant $300 $200- $450
Therapeutic, full mouth $200 $100- $350

A number of procedures might be required before or after your scaling and root planing. Your dentist will make the final decision on what is necessary. Those might include:

  • a dental checkup,
  • full-mouth debridement,
  • gingival irrigation,
  • localized delivery of an antimicrobial agent,
  • periodontal maintenance,
  • X-rays.

These procedures may need a separate appointment. The ADA guidelines for scaling and root planing state that it should not be done on the same day as a regular prophylaxis or debridement.

Have a look at the calculator below. Play around with the options. The estimated price will change as you do so.

SRP type
Number of teeth
Associated procedures
$ 0 Total cost

Scaling and root planing near me

Scaling and root planing may be a necessary expense if you suffer from gum disease. Costs can be very different from one dentist to another. Make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

You don’t have to do the research by hand. Authority Dental has a comprehensive network of specialists in every area of oral care. We can match you up with a local dentist that has great reviews and affordable prices. Your insurance, preferred form of payment, and availability will also be considered.

We’ll book the appointment at a convenient time for you. Check our 100% free service anytime, we are available 24/7. Click here for more information.


Does insurance cover scaling and root planing?

Insurance policies may cover about 50% of the costs of SRP. Regular scaling and root planing is usually refundable once every two years. In the case of the presence of inflammation, two procedures a year are anticipated. Each SRP is limited to a number of teeth. In combination with yearly maximums, it might be problematic to have the whole mouth treated.

The solution we recommend is signing up for a dental plan. This involves a monthly or yearly fee, but it guarantees a lower price on all procedures in exchange. Reductions range from 10%-60%, no matter how many you need throughout the year or what the cause is.

Is periodontal scaling and root planing necessary?

Not for every patient. SRP is required when there is considerable tartar and plaque buildup that cannot be removed during a simple teeth cleaning.

Does scaling and root planing hurt?

Patients describe the procedure as uncomfortable but not painful. Either way, local anesthetic can be administered to minimize any scaling and root planing pain.

What to eat after deep teeth cleaning?

Hard and sticky snacks may cause sensitivity or reduce the effectiveness of scaling and root planing. You best stick to soft foods such as soups and pasta for at least a day. Drink plenty of fluids, ideally water, as well.

Does scaling and root planing carry any risks?

Generally, there aren’t many scaling and root planing risks if the procedure is done correctly. There’s no way teeth fall out after deep cleaning, unless you grossly fail to follow post op instructions. This may also lead to bacteria in the bloodstream, a fever, and tooth sensitivity.

If you suffer from any diseases that make you particularly vulnerable to infection, you may have to take a course of antibiotics. This may start before the procedure.

Disclaimer: The total cost of scaling and root planing depends on numerous factors. These include the location, the experience of the person performing the procedures, and the materials used. The costs vary from state to state, from office to office, and even from dentist to dentist working in the same office. These prices show the average expenses involved without insurance or dental plans. We did our best to compile and take into account values from many sources, but the final decision as to which procedures must be performed and how much to charge for them is always ultimately made by the dentist. We give no guarantee that the prices you find here are the prices your dentist will quote.