Scaling and root planing is the most common and conservative form of treatment for periodontal (gum) disease. Scaling is the removal of calculus (commonly called tartar) and plaque that attach to the tooth surfaces. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Plaque is more likely to stick to rough surfaces. For this reason, the root surface is smoothed down in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining calculus and smooths irregular areas of the root surface.