When you visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, the plaque on your teeth is removed. However, if the plaque build-up is more than what brushing and flossing can remove, your dentist may recommend tooth scaling.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar buildup from below your gum line. It also helps to prevent gum disease and other oral health problems.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning that removes the plaque and tartar above and below the gumline, preventing inflammation and periodontal disease. It’s a two-step procedure that can take multiple appointments and may require a local anesthetic to make it comfortable.
Scaling uses special dental instruments to remove bacteria, toxins and hardened plaque from the teeth’s crowns and roots. It also includes an irrigation process to deliver antimicrobial agents below the gumline that can help reduce oral bacteria and infection.
Your dentist will typically numb the area where they’ll perform scaling and root planning with a topical or local anesthetic before the process begins. During the process, they scrape away all of the plaque and dental tartar from your teeth above and below your gum line down to the periodontal pocket, then they smooth out the rough surfaces on your tooth roots so that your gums can reattach to them.
During this process, your dentist will also use an ultrasonic scaler to gently vibrate and create tiny air bubbles that destroy the bacteria in periodontal pockets. These tiny bubbles are able to penetrate the bacterial membranes that cover your gums and roots, killing the bacteria and helping you heal faster.
You should be able to resume regular teeth brushing and flossing within three to five days after the procedure. However, if you have sensitive gums or teeth, your dentist will prescribe a stronger toothpaste or rinse to reduce any pain or sensitivity you may experience.
After the procedure, you will need to see your dentist regularly for a periodontal maintenance cleaning schedule. You’ll return every three to four months for this preventive treatment that will keep your mouth healthy and help you avoid the complications of gum disease, including tooth loss and bone loss.
Your dentist will provide you with home hygiene tips for preventing the formation of new gum infections and keeping your periodontal health intact after the scaling and root planing procedure. You should also visit your dentist at least once a year for a routine professional cleaning to remove built-up bacteria and plaque that can lead to gum disease.
Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease is a serious condition that can lead to bone loss and tooth loss if left untreated. It starts with gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that can be reversed with good oral hygiene and a few special treatments by a dentist or periodontist. Gingivitis that turns into periodontitis, however, is more serious and needs more attention.
To treat gum disease, your dentist will perform a deep cleaning of your teeth that reaches below the gum line. This treatment is called scaling and root planing.
This deep cleaning removes plaque and tartar from your teeth and around your gums and in the spaces where your gums pull away from your teeth (called pockets). Scaling also removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from hard-to-reach areas of your mouth that can’t be brushed or flossed.
Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics and a special antibacterial mouthwash to help control the symptoms of gum disease. These medications are a powerful way to fight the infection and heal your gums.
You can help prevent gum disease by adopting a healthy dental hygiene routine, taking care of health conditions that can affect your mouth and quitting smoking. You’ll need to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, and they can recommend a maintenance schedule that works best for you.
In addition to daily brushing and flossing, you can also help control gum disease by using a specialized toothpaste designed to reduce the amount of bacteria that grows on your teeth and in your mouth. Your dentist can help you choose the right toothpaste for your unique oral hygiene needs.
The dentist can also apply topical anesthetic to the treatment area. This helps keep you comfortable during the procedure and makes it easier for your dentist to clean out all of the harmful bacteria.
If you have severe gum disease, your dentist may also recommend surgery to shrink the pocket depth between your teeth and gums. This can make it easier for you to clean the area, and reduce your risk of tooth and bone loss.
Surgical procedures to treat gum disease are performed by an oral surgeon or a periodontist, and most can be done in your dentist’s office. Your dentist may use local anesthesia to numb the treatment area, and will give you a prescription for antibiotics and other medication to help you heal.
Prevents Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is a serious health condition that can lead to pain and an infection. It usually happens in back teeth (molars and premolars) because they have lots of nooks and crannies where food can collect.
When sugars in foods and drinks come into contact with plaque on your teeth, the bacteria within plaque produce acids that attack your teeth. These acids leach minerals from your enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities.
Brushing your teeth and flossing regularly can help prevent tooth decay. However, this alone cannot completely remove the bacteria, sugar and acid that has built up between your teeth over time.
To keep your teeth healthy, you need to see your dentist for professional cleanings and dental examinations every six to twelve months. This will help your dentist detect any signs of decay in its early stages, before it needs a filling.
Tooth scaling helps your dentist remove hardened plaque from the surfaces of your teeth and below the gum line. Tartar is very difficult to remove with flossing or brushing at home, so scaling helps to lessen your chances of developing tooth decay and cavities.
Once tartar is removed, you will be able to maintain a clean and healthy mouth with regular brushing and flossing. The dentist will also recommend a desensitizing toothpaste and a prescription mouthwash to prevent sensitivity and discomfort during the healing process.
Another important thing to remember is that you should always be aware of hidden sugars in your diet. Snacks, candy and other foods that contain a lot of sugar can cause a large amount of damage to your teeth.
During your visit, the dentist will use one of several tools to scale away plaque that can’t be removed with a toothbrush. Typically, the dentist will use a dental scaler or curette to reach deep under the gum line. Other options include an ultrasonic tool that sprays cool water and chips away at the plaque.
Many people worry that tooth scaling will damage their teeth, but this is not true. Scaling is a routine procedure that can help remove plaque and tartar from your teeth without harming them.
Prevents Bad Breath
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common problem for many people. It can be embarrassing, and it can also be a sign of other dental issues, such as gum disease or dry mouth.
Scaling helps eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath by removing plaque and tartar from teeth surfaces. The bacteria in plaque release volatile sulfur compounds that irritate the gums and mouth, causing a foul odor.
During scaling, the dentist will use a special tool to scrape away plaque and calculus from teeth. Afterward, the dentist will polish the tooth to remove any remaining deposits and smooth the surface of the tooth.
When the gums are healthy, they fit tightly around the tooth to keep plaque out. If gum disease develops, however, the tissue can loosen and begin to form pockets that can fill with plaque. If the pocket gets deeper than four millimeters, your dentist may recommend dental scaling to help you treat the condition and prevent it from worsening.
In addition to preventing bad breath, tooth scaling can also help improve your overall oral health and protect your smile. By removing plaque and tartar, your teeth will be healthier and more likely to remain free from decay.
Your dentist can also give you a special mouthwash or oral medication to help keep your teeth clean and fresh. This will make it easier for you to avoid bad breath and other dental problems, such as gum disease.
The best way to prevent bad breath is to brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit your dentist for routine checkups. You should also avoid smoking, alcohol and other odor-causing foods and drinks.
Although bad breath can be caused by a number of things, the most common causes are food debris and oral bacteria. When the bacteria in your mouth eats sugars and proteins, they release a foul-smelling sulfur compound that irritates the gums and leaves your breath smelling bad.
Other causes of bad breath include dry mouth, certain medications, illness or diseases and tobacco use. You can prevent bad breath by brushing your teeth twice a day, using a mouthwash and avoiding odor-causing foods.