What Are the Pros and Cons of Laser vs. scaling and Root planning?

What Are the Pros and Cons of Laser vs. scaling and Root planning?

Feb 01, 2024

Dealing with signs of gum disease like inflamed, bleeding gums? You may wonder about the most effective treatment options to restore your gum health. Laser therapy and deep cleaning through scaling and root planing are two common non-surgical gum disease treatments. But what exactly do these involve, and how do they compare?

Keep reading our overview of the pros, cons, and key differences between laser and deep cleaning procedures.

What is laser therapy for gum disease treatment?

Laser therapy uses a precise dental laser to target infection and inflammation beneath the gums without cutting or disturbing the surrounding tissues. During this minimally invasive procedure, a dentist inserts a thin fiber optic probe under the gumline and delivers cool laser light pulses into diseased pockets.

This light energy kills bacteria colonies deep within the tissues and coagulates blood vessels to stop further bleeding and contamination. Laser therapy removes infection and assists in healing all without trauma to the gums.

Patients usually need just a few laser treatments several weeks apart to see significant improvement. The non-invasive nature of lasers makes this gum therapy far less painful and easier to recover from than deep cleanings.

How does laser compare to scraping and root planing?

Lasers treat gum disease with light energy, deep scaling, and root planing, which involve manually scraping tartar, plaque, and diseased gum tissues from tooth surfaces and roots. This deep cleaning process is meticulous, needing to extend below the gumline to debride infected pockets completely.

Using precise dental instruments, the Encinitas dentist scales any roughness, overgrowth, or calculus from tooth roots within diseased pockets, smoothing them to facilitate gum reattachment. A local anesthetic is administered to numb the procedure. This scaling and root planing is often done over multiple visits to cover all areas needing decontamination carefully.

Though highly effective, the invasive scraping irritates gum tissues significantly, causing post-treatment discomfort lasting days to weeks.

Is laser treatment less painful and invasive?

Laser periodontal treatment near you is far less invasive, traumatic, and painful than scaling and root instrumentation. Since laser light selectively destroys infection and seals blood vessels without disturbing healthy gum tissues, patients experience very little pain or irritation during or after. No suturing or extensive recovery is needed.

Deep cleaning, irritation, inflammation, and sensitivity are common for weeks post-treatment as gums heal from invasive scraping. Effective local anesthetic manages discomfort during aggressive root instrumentation, but significant soreness often follows once the anesthetic wears off. Lasers treat disease without violating tissues, so healing occurs faster and easier.

Does laser kill bacteria as effectively as deep cleaning?

Research indicates laser therapy and scaling/root planing achieve similar initial gum infection and inflammation reductions. However, some studies found lasers provide better long-lasting disinfection deep inside gum tissues.

The precision of laser light can penetrate pockets to eliminate bacteria colonies beyond what manual scalers can reach. However, dentists must still thoroughly remove calculus deposits from tooth root surfaces for optimal healing. Laser disinfects the inner gum lining while scalers clean the outer tooth surfaces. Used together, lasers and scalers optimize results.

Which treatment option has better long-term results?

Though comparative evidence is limited, multiple studies suggest non-invasive laser therapy alone or with scaling/root planing leads to better maintained long-term outcomes. Patients tend to sustain gains made through laser better over time.

One reason is that the laser more effectively seals off infection within the tissues to prevent later recontamination. While scaling and polishing remove surface deposits, lingering bacteria below the gums can still re-colonize and cause recurring inflammation after some years.

Properly utilized laser therapy better controls infection over the years, with fewer pocket depth increases and the need for re-treatment compared to scaling alone. But excellent patient home care is also key for keeping gums healthy long-term.

How long does recovery and healing take with each treatment?

Since laser avoids trauma to gum tissues, healing occurs faster than with invasive scaling and root planing. Patients may notice slight gum sensitivity for days after the laser, but significant pain, swelling, and inflammation are unlikely.

With scaling and root planning, irritation, discomfort, and tenderness often linger for 1-2 weeks post-treatment until gums mend. Severe cases may warrant prescription pain relief and antibiotics to manage infection risk during the slower healing phase after invasive instrumentation.

Because lasers selectively treat diseased tissues without violation, gums heal faster. Complete healing can occur in just a few weeks. Deep cleanings require 4-6 weeks for gums to fully heal from the trauma of rigorous scraping and planning procedures.


Laser therapy and deep cleanings have merit when evaluating non-surgical approaches for treating gum disease. Laser provides comparable effectiveness to root scaling but with considerably less pain, recovery time, and need for later re-treatment. Though expensive, lasers fight infection with minimal discomfort or trauma to patients. However, calculus removal is still vital for gum health, so deep cleanings remain crucial for cleaning tooth root surfaces when indicated.

Laser therapy can be used for optimal results alongside precise scaling and root planing under local anesthetic. This combined approach ensures infection and inflammation are addressed below and above the diseased gumlines for stable, lasting outcomes.

To develop an integrated gum disease treatment plan tailored to your needs, consult closely with  Sinclair Smiles, your dentist near me. Call today to schedule your evaluation.

“Any crown or inlay/onlay treatment can be completed the same day in one visit. No need to come back for follow up appointments.”

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