What Is Scaling?
Dental scaling is routinely performed to help patients with gum illness and excessive plaque buildup. While a standard cleaning will address the surface of the tooth, scaling goes much deeper. If your dentist suggests dental scaling and root planning for your teeth, it’s useful to know what this means so you can prepare for what’s ahead.
Scaling is a general dental process for patients with gum disease. This is a type of dental cleaning that reaches below the gum line to remove plaque buildup. The procedure of scaling and root planning the teeth is often referred to as a deep cleaning. This treatment goes beyond the general cleaning that you receive with your usual checkup and annual visit.
When Is Dental Scaling Necessary?
Everyone 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, creating a buildup on the teeth known as plaque. The bacteria that lives in this plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings will help take away the plaque and stop 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 gum line. With gum disease, you’ll begin to develop deeper pockets. These can fill with plaque, worsening your problems and causing sign like bad breath.
What Does Scaling Feel Like?
Dental scaling can be painful, particularly if you have sensitive gums. Your dentist may offer a local anesthetic to numb your gum tissue and make the process more comfortable. Speak with your dental care supplier about your options for desensitizing the area if you’re concerned about pain or discomfort for the duration of the process.
Dental scaling can take several visits, each one addressing a different portion of the mouth. Some dentists divide the mouth into four quadrants, while others will perform dental scaling in two halves. If you’re nervous about the procedure, ask your dentist if you can schedule your scaling for a single visit. Though this isn’t an option for all cases, it may be available if you have only moderate gum disease and are willing to sit for a lengthy process.
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