Dental scaling is routinely performed to help patients with gum disease and excessive plaque buildup. While a standard cleaning will address the surface of the tooth, scaling goes much deeper.
When is dental scaling required?
Every individual experiences some form of plaque buildup. The saliva, bacteria, and proteins in your mouth form a thin layer that covers your teeth at almost all times. When you eat, tiny particles, acids, and sugars from the food stick to this film, forming an accumulation on the teeth known as plaque. The bacteria that lives in this plaque can cause gum disease and tooth caries. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings will help remove the plaque and prevent more serious problems.
If you have healthy gums, the tissue will fit tightly around the tooth and keep plaque out. However, if gum disease begins to form, this tissue will loosen. Healthy gums attach to the tooth just 1 to 3 millimeters below the gumline. With gum disease, you’ll begin to develop deeper pockets. These can fill with plaque, worsening your problems and causing symptoms like bad breath.
If you have pockets of 4 millimeters or more, your dentist will probably recommend dental scaling to remove the plaque beneath the gums and help treat the gum disease.
How scaling is performed?
Dental scaling involves the careful removal of plaque bacteria from the tooth’s surface just below the gums. There are two basic methods for scaling teeth. We can use handheld instruments, to scrape plaque from the tooth using a metal tool known as a dental scaler and curette. We will insert this thin instrument beneath the gums to access plaque your toothbrush can’t reach.
Alternately, we may choose an ultrasonic instrument to scale your teeth. This features a vibrating metal tip combined with a cool water spray. The tip chips tartar away as the water flushes out the pocket.