Dental scaling is a dental procedure also known as conventional periodontal therapy because it is one of the procedures that are most helpful in preventing gum diseases. It is a non-surgical procedure conducted to clean the teeth, gums, and surrounding area of any agents which may lead to inflammation including sticky plaque that has stubbornly accumulated on teeth surface and hard to reach areas like the root surfaces. This type of plaque usually has a lot of bacteria and may lead to gum disease after a while.
Scaling is one form of deep cleaning the teeth and it should be done regularly or at least once every six months to make sure that the teeth and gums are all well-maintained and safe from irritants. Sometimes it is also done as a treatment procedure for mild periodontitis, although severe cases would probably require surgery.
How Dental Scaling Helps with Periodontitis
- What is Periodontitis?
- Causes of Periodontitis
- The Scaling Procedure
1. What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is an acute infectious gum disease that gradually causes the gums around the teeth to deteriorate. In worse cases, even the supporting bone underneath may be affected, resulting to bone loss. Once the gum and bone are weakened, the support of the tooth weakens as well; this is why periodontitis is also a very prominent cause of lost teeth.
Periodontitis does not develop overnight. Rather, it develops slowly and painlessly, so it’s hard to spot the problem before it does serious damage. Unfortunately, it is also a very minor problem that can be easily solved by dentists if only the affected individuals are able to get early treatment. This is one of the problems that regular cleaning and checkups can help prevent.
2. Causes of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is primarily caused by bacteria-containing plaque that accumulates along and under the gum line. Plaque, being colorless, is hard to spot, but it’s a grave danger for teeth as it is full of bacteria. Plaque accumulates from food debris that are not properly brushed away. If they are left for a long time, they eventually combine with the natural minerals found in the mouth and another threat to good dental health is born: tartar, also known as calculus.
Once the infection gets too much, the gums become irritated and inflammation may follow shortly.
3. The Scaling Procedure
The dental scaling procedure is not invasive at all and is easily done. When you go in for treatment, your dentist will most likely take an x-ray to check the extent of damage done to the tooth or teeth. You will also be given a clinical dental exam to get the whole of the picture and make sure no affected tooth gets left behind.
Once you’re ready for the procedure, a portion of your mouth will be anesthesized. Scaling is not a surgical procedure but since to be able to thoroughly remove all the plaque and tartar, the dental care professional reaches under the gums to make sure there is nothing stuck in between the tooth and the gums. This can cause discomfort and pain, so the dental care professional would more effectively complete the procedure with anesthetics.
The tooth scaling procedure may be done by a general dentist, a periodontist or a dentist specializing in gum care or periodontics, or a dental hygienist. It is done using a scaling instrument, which now comes in two types, hand-held instruments and ultrasonic instruments.
After the dental scaling procedure, there should be noticeable valleys with depths of 1 to 3 mm in between each tooth.
Scaling and Root Planing Treatment Combination
Scaling is often done alongside another type of procedure called root planing, another deep cleaning method that targets cementum, dentin, calculus, harmful microorganisms, and toxins. Root planing makes the treatment more thorough, although in some cases, scaling is usually enough.
The only reason why a lot of dentists recommend doing both dental scaling and root planing together is that the latter usually leaves the teeth feeling rough on the surface, which makes it more susceptible to germ buildup. Root planing may be considered a preventive measure as it smooths out the surface of the teeth to prevent future buildup of plaque and tartar. With these irritants gone, the gum closes snugly around the tooth once again, resulting in tight, strong, and very stable teeth.