If plaque and tartar is left on the teeth, it makes for a happy breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria can cause irritation to the gums i.e. the inflammation causes bleeding in the gums. It I is noticeable when you are brushing your teeth, or eating. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth by scaling or polishing them. They may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine and show you the right method to brush and floss your teeth effectively. Most adults have some degree of gum disease. If gingivitis is not treated and nothing is done about it, the inflammation will work its way down towards the foundations of the tooth causing a “periodontal pocket”. Again, within the confines of the pocket, the conditions are such that the bacteria can cause more damage. To stop gum disease from progressing, your dentist may advise periodontal therapy, or teeth deep cleaning. This gets rid of the bacteria in the pocket and provides the necessary conditions for healing.
There is some confusion about the difference between scaling and root planning. Scaling is basically the process of removing dental tartar from the surfaces of the teeth. On the other hand, root planning is the process of smoothening the root surfaces and removing any infected tooth structure. If you have gum disease or gum pocketing, the gum pockets around the teeth will have deepened, thereby allowing tartar deposits to form under the gum line.
The two processes tend to blur together since during the cleaning process, the dental worker scales away tartar and performs any necessary root planning at the same time. Any roughness can be planed away to result in a silky smooth surface.