Teeth scaling is a common dental procedure through which your dentist will professionally clean your teeth. It is a nonsurgical way to treat gum disease, but only in moderate cases. This way, the dentist will both treat some of the symptoms, and prevent the disease from worsening. In this article, we will try to answer all the questions you might have regarding this professional dental cleaning.

Periodontal disease can not only affect your oral health but your overall wellbeing as well. Research has revealed that there is a link between gum disease and systemic health. Periodontal disease can increase the risk of heart attack by up to 25 percent, and strokes by 10 percent. It also makes it harder to control certain diseases, such as diabetes or digestive disorders.

woman having teeth scaling

Why Do I Need Teeth Scaling?

If your dentist has suggested teeth scaling, then you most likely suffer from gum disease. You’re not alone in this, you know. A worrying number of adults in the United States have some form of gum disease. This condition varies from a simple gum inflammation to major damage to the soft tissue and the bone that supports the teeth.

While gum disease is generally irreversible, there is a real possibility you can still reverse it. However, in order to get rid of it, you must spot the symptoms and take the necessary treatment measures in its early stages.

As you may already know, gum disease is caused by bacteria. These microorganisms, along with mucus and food particles, form a sticky plaque on the teeth. When this plaque hardens, it forms tartar. Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of tartar on your won. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it through professional cleaning or teeth scaling.

Regular dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, removes the tartar and calculus buildup off the teeth. However, through this procedure, your dental will only be cleaning the part of the teeth that you can see. While it may be sufficient for some individuals, it may not be enough for you. This is due to the fact that teeth extend below the gum line. When you have gum disease, the root of your teeth is also affected. So as the disease destroys the visible part of the teeth, it moves on to the root of the teeth and then to the bone.

How Do I Know If I Need Teeth Scaling?

If you have yet to schedule an appointment with your dentist, do it. They will take special measurements that will reveal if you have a form of gum disease. These are called periodontal charting or pocket measurements. A healthy tooth should be in the 0-1 range. A 2-3mm reading means you have gingivitis, and a 4-5mm reading means you have periodontitis and possibly gum recession. Usually, having a pocket depth of over 4mm means you should definitely schedule for scaling and root planning.

signs of gum disease

How Is Teeth Scaling Done?

Teeth scaling is done with two instruments. Your dentist will either use one or rely on both of them:

  • Hand-held instruments. The specialist will use a dental scaler and a curette to manually scrape off the plaque from the teeth.
  • Ultrasonic instruments. These instruments clean the plaque from the teeth through vibration. A vibrating metal tip will chip off the tartar, while a water spray will wash it away. Manual instruments are slowly being replaced by ultrasonic scalers.

Does it hurt?

If you have superficial tartar deposits, then this procedure will most likely not be painful. In the case of deep deposits, the dentist will use local anesthesia to ensure a painless experience.

However, there is still a chance of bleeding because tartar and plaque cause gum inflammation. Due to the fact that the scaling instruments will touch your inflamed gums, they will most likely bleed.

Will it affect the enamel?

Some people worry that tooth scaling will damage the enamel. Don’t let this common misconception push you back. Scaling will only polish and clean your teeth. It is not a harsh cleaning, thus it will not destroy the enamel.

Will my teeth become loose?

No, this is yet one more myth. Scaling will not damage the root and the structure of the teeth. If your teeth appear looser than before, it is all due to periodontal disease. The tartar surrounding the affected teeth, as damaging as is it, gives a false impression of support. As your dentist gets rid of it, it may seem that your teeth move around more. Since you don’t need that false sense of stability that will only make the disease progress, scaling is the way to go.

Will it be enough to reverse gum disease?

As previously discussed, it may, but it all depends on the severity of your problem. In its initial stages, gum disease can be treated. However, if it has progressed to a point where scaling is not enough, your dentist will suggest a different form of treatment.

Should I take any precaution measures?

If you have reduced immunity, thus suffering from HIV, cancer, and other similar diseases, or have a case of heart disease, then you might have to take antibiotics before the procedure.

Furthermore, if you suffer from diabetes, bleeding disorder, clotting disorder, hypertension, or have undergone a major surgery recently, then do tell your doctor about it.

What are the results?

before and after teeth scaling

If you have a mild to moderate case of gum disease, then it is likely that the condition will stop. It highly depends on the aftercare. Maintain a high-quality oral hygiene and your gums should heal perfectly.

How Often Should I Get It Done?

You dentist will decide how often you need it. Generally speaking, teeth scaling is recommended twice a year, once every six months. However, the frequency differs based on the type of saliva. Because as we grow older, our saliva thickens. Because it contains less water, tartar at the lower ends of the teeth may form more easily.

You will most likely have your deep cleaning in two sessions. First, on one side of your mouth. Then, you will have to come back after a few weeks to have teeth scaling on the other side as well.

What Should I Do After the Procedure?

After the procedure, it is vital you start an intensive oral hygiene routine. Remember that after scaling, the pockets are empty of plaque and tartar. Brush your teeth after each meal and use a mouthwash regularly. This keeps your teeth clean and prevents infection. You should also not touch the gums with your tongue or fingers.

man cleaning his teeth with a toothbrush

Some individuals will experience a mild pain and discomfort after the procedure. This may last for a few days. You can get relief by using a warm salt mouthwash which you can easily prepare at home. Rinse your mouth with it every couple of hours to manage the pain. Try to use natural remedies for tooth pain. Aspirin, for example, thins the blood and may aggravate the bleeding.

Watch your diet as well. Avoid spicy foods and hot drinks. After any type of professional cleaning, these foods and beverages can aggravate the gums. Stick to a soft diet for as long as your dentist tells you to. Smoking is also forbidden because it will delay the healing process. Try to stay away from cigarettes for at least three days after scaling.

The Risks Involving Scaling

Besides the obvious benefits of teeth scaling, there are a few disadvantages as well. While rare, you may risk:

  • Gum shrinkage. After the procedure, your gums may shrink. This causes the teeth to appear bigger, as the lower part of them is revealed. As a result, you may be more prone to cavities.
  • Lymph glands swelling. Sometimes, patients experience a swelling of the lymph glands. Address your doctor if you see signs of this happening.
  • Infection. Scaling may integrate the bacteria from your mouth into the bloodstream. However, infections are easily treated if you spot the symptoms early on. You can get rid of these infections by taking antibiotics.

Scaling is a safe procedure, and the risks described above rarely happen. Follow your dentist’s advice and your gums will heal properly in due time.

How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?

To avoid getting to the point where you need a procedure to treat gum disease, take the necessary prevention measures. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Do regular dental checkups.
  • Brush at least twice a day.
  • Floss daily because it’s the ideal way to clean between the teeth.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months.
  • Use an antimicrobial mouthwash. You can make one at home.
  • Quit smoking.

Teeth scaling is a simple procedure that can provide major benefits. If your dentist recommends a professional cleaning, then rest assured it’s the ideal way to treat your case of gum disease. After the procedure, you will have to take care of your teeth properly. Your dentist will educate you and show you how to clean your teeth efficiently at home. Future bacteria and tartar may still form, which is why preventing any future issue is vital for your dental health.

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