Scaling is a procedure used to treat chronic periodontitis, a more advanced form of gum disease than gingivitis. This problem affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States. Locally, in Vancouver, a dentist or hygienist can perform this treatment on patients to remove plaque from the teeth.
What is Teeth Scaling?
Scaling is a deeper cleaning than you may normally experience at a dentist. The procedure involves removing all the hardened plaque, called tartar, from the teeth. This means cleaning above and below the gumline. Scaling below the gumline is known as root planning. Scaling and root planning can sometimes take more than one visit to a dentist in Vancouver. In some cases, your dentist may also use topical or local anesthetic before scaling.
Why do my teeth need to be scaled?
When bacteria accumulate on the teeth, a sticky film called plaque builds up. This process is constantly occurring inside our mouths. However, if plaque isn’t cleaned away regularly by a dentist, your gums can become inflamed. Inflamed gums will recede slightly from the tooth, creating a small pocket of space. This space is where bacteria and plaque get trapped and can no longer be removed by brushing.
Studies show that the normal depth of the space between a tooth and the gum is 1-3mm. If you are suffering from periodontitis, this pocket becomes deeper. When you visit your local dentist, a trained hygienist can use special tools to remove the plaque from these spaces.
If left untreated, gum disease can wreak havoc on your dental health. You could lose teeth, or even damage the bone your teeth are attached to. If the gum disease has gone on too long, the pockets of plaque may be too deep for normal scaling. In this case, root planning may also be necessary.
What are the benefits and risks of scaling?
Teeth scaling and root planning are trusted and reliable treatments for chronic periodontal disease. By clearing plaque from these pockets in the gums, you can lower the risk of tooth loss, bone and tissue damage, and chronic tooth pain.
Thankfully, there are minimal risks to teeth scaling. Occasionally, an antibiotic mouthwash may be prescribed to help avoid possible infection post-treatment. Talk to a dentist if you have concerns about your treatment.
When should I get teeth scaling?
Your dentist will recommend scaling if they identify signs of chronic gum disease. This can include red or swollen gum tissue that should normally be firm and pink. If you often experience bleeding while flossing, this can be another sign of periodontitis. A good dentist will measure the pockets between your tooth and gum to confirm when scaling is necessary — because it’s not good to over-do it as well.