Everything You Need to Know about Scaling
What is Scaling?
While a standard cleaning focuses on cleaning the surface of the tooth, scaling focuses on removing plaque build-up from below the gum line. During a scaling session, a specialized dental tool is used to chip the build up from the teeth and gums. Scaling can also be referred to as part of a deep dental cleaning.
Who Needs Scaling?
Scaling is a common dental procedure for patients with gum disease or periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease. A regular cleaning is not sufficient for patients with gum disease as the amount and location of the plaque build up would not be efficiently removed with regular cleaning techniques.
Why is Dental Scaling Necessary?
Plague is a combination of saliva, bacteria, and proteins in your mouth that form a thin layer over your teeth. Tiny particles, acids, and sugars from the food you eat stick to this film, and create a build-up. If this film/ plaque is not regularly removed through brushing and flossing, bacteria in this plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
Once you have gum disease, your gum tissue will eventually begin to recede from your teeth and create pockets of spaces between your gums and your teeth. These pockets also become filled with plaque and bacteria. Dental scaling removes the plaque that develops beneath the gum line and helps treat the gum disease.
What is the Scaling Procedure?
The careful removal of plaque from the tooth’s surface just below the gum line can be achieved in two ways. Your dentist can use handheld instruments known as a dental scaler and curette to scrape away the plaque or use an ultrasonic instrument to scale your teeth. This tool has a vibrating metal tip combined with a water spray. The vibrating tip chips away at the plaque build-up while the water flushes out any gum pockets.
Dental scaling can take several visits, each one addressing a different portion of the mouth. If you’re nervous about the process, you may be able to schedule your scaling for a single visit. The procedure can be uncomfortable for patients with sensitive gums. Your dentist may offer a local anesthetic to numb your gum tissue and make the procedure more comfortable. Speak to your dentist about your options for desensitizing the area if you’re concerned about pain or discomfort during the process.