Tooth Scaling 1

Tooth Scaling

One of the top things your dentist will seek to impress upon you is the vital importance of maintaining good oral hygiene habits. While there are many wonderful benefits, the primary purpose for daily brushing and flossing and twice annual dental cleanings is to prevent against plaque buildup on the teeth and the resultant gum disease caused by bacteria and food particles that remain in the mouth. Plaque is a thin, sticky substance that covers your teeth and it is normally rife with bacteria, food particles and other things that can cause damage to our teeth and gum tissues. If left upon the surface of the teeth, plaque can harden into tartar that becomes even more difficult to remove.

Properly done, daily brushing techniques can remove much of the plaque, bacteria and food particles that accumulate on the surface of our teeth and gums, and twice annual dental cleanings can help to remove that which is left behind. However, there are some cases where this basic surface cleaning is insufficient, usually because gum disease has occurred, and deeper cleaning is needed. This is where tooth scaling comes in.

What is Tooth Scaling

Tooth scaling is a relatively common procedure that is used to improve the oral health of patients who are suffering from gum disease. Individuals with healthy gums will find that this soft tissue fits snugly around and against each tooth, working as a natural barrier to keep plaque away. Unfortunately, gum disease causes a relaxation and loosening of these soft tissues, creating periodontal pockets in which plaque and bacteria can build up. When periodontal pockets are infected they can cause problems such as oral discomfort and persistent bad breath. Properly addressed with tooth scaling procedures, these pockets can be thoroughly cleaned so that they are able to heal and restore the individual to better oral health.

Rather than simply addressing and cleaning the visible surfaces of the teeth, scaling is a type of deep dental cleaning that goes below the gumline in order to remove the plaque buildup that is occurring there. Dentists typically have two main options for tooth scaling–using handheld instruments in order to scrape the plaque off the tooth beneath the gumline, or using an ultrasonic instrument that combines a vibrating tip and sprayed water in order to remove plaque. In many cases, your dentist will recommend root planing in addition to tooth scaling, as this will reach even deeper and clean the surface of the tooth’s root so as to better ensure the subsequent healing of the periodontal pocket and gum tissue.

Preparing for Tooth Scaling

Due to the fact that tooth scaling is often viewed as an uncomfortable dental procedure, many dentists recommend the administration of a local anesthetic. This will help to numb the gum tissue in the exact area or areas that will need to be cleaned, allowing for a more comfortable treatment experience. In order to further reduce discomfort, your dentist will probably recommend that tooth scaling occur in smaller sections of the mouth over the course of several visits. This can also help with the process of recovery, where only a select area of the mouth feels sensitive for some time after treatment rather than the entire mouth.

After your tooth scaling treatment, your dentist will explain what you can expect during the healing phase, and how you can help to reduce soreness, swelling and bleeding. In some cases, desensitizing toothpaste or prescription mouthwashes are used to help the area heal more smoothly and comfortably. When your teeth and gums have had a chance to heal a bit, your dentist will have you come in for another visit in order to make sure that things are moving forward properly and smoothly and there is no exacerbation of gum disease issues that need to be aggressively addressed. Of course they will recommend that you always contact them immediately if you experience any lasting discomfort or other oral health issues, and that you maintain excellent oral hygiene habits to protect against a future recurrence of gum disease issues.


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