November 06, 2019
What is teeth scaling?
Teeth scaling, also known as dental scaling, is a procedure that helps get rid of plaque buildup on your teeth. Dental scaling is not the same as a routine cleaning; your dentist may suggest a teeth scaling procedure for you if you have excess plaque build-up. Teeth scaling is often recommended for patients who have gum disease or gingivitis.
When do you need teeth scaling?
It’s normal for most people to have some plaque build-up in between dentist visits. That’s because, as you’re probably well aware, your mouth is home to saliva and in that saliva there’s a lot of bacteria and proteins. Well, these three elements create a layer of film that covers your teeth most of the time.
Then, when you introduce food into your mouth, acids, sugars and food particles stick to this layer of film and the resulting buildup is plaque. And in that plaque resides harmful bacteria that may cause gingivitis, gum disease or tooth decay. Additionally, the soft plaque hardens into calculus, at which point it can only be removed by a dentist.
For those with healthy gums, the plaque is kept from getting between your teeth and your gums, because healthy gums have strong tissue that creates a seal around the tooth. But, with gum disease, that healthy tissue starts to loosen, leaving pockets that can fill with even more plaque.
But not all is lost if this sounds like your situation, that’s where dental scaling comes in—it will help remove the plaque under the gum line so your gums can work on getting healthy again.
What is the teeth scaling procedure like?
In general, there are two methods for scaling teeth and removing the plaque from below the gum line
• Dental scaler: A dental scaler, or a curette, is a thin metal instrument that kind of looks like a metal hook, that is inserted beneath the gum line to scrape away plaque.
• Ultrasonic plaque removal: Special equipment produces vibrations that loosen plaque, and disrupt bacterial colonies, which in turn are washed away with a stream of water.
What is root planing?
If you’ve heard about teeth scaling, then you’ve probably also heard about root planing. Root planing is another facet of deep dental cleaning, and comes after the scaling session. Root planing involves using a similar tool to scaling, in fact, sometimes the same tool, to get even deeper below your gum line and smooth out the surface of your tooth’s root, so your gums can reattach to the tooth properly.
Does scaling hurt?
Both scaling and planing will probably at the very least cause discomfort, and more likely swelling and pain. That’s because if you are getting these procedures performed, it’s likely that you have gum disease or gingivitis, so your gums are likely to be extra sensitive.
What happens after teeth scaling?
As mentioned above, your gums and general mouth area will probably feel a bit sore, swollen and generally sensitive after a scaling and planing procedure. You may even experience some bleeding during the days after your visit to the dentist. To help with cope with these effects, your dentist may recommend that you use a toothpaste that will lessen the sensitivity of your gums, and an antibacterial mouthwash to keep your gums clean while they heal.
If your dentist says that you should come in for a teeth scaling and root planing procedure, don’t be too hard on yourself. In fact, according to the World Dental Federation, 11% of the global population suffers from severe periodontitis, which means that many more are affected by some form of mild periodontal disease. Just make sure you pick up healthy oral health habits after your procedure, and hopefully you won’t have to return anytime soon.