What is tooth scaling?

If you have a stubborn case of gum disease, your dentist may recommend a dental procedure called dental scaling to keep it from getting worse. Dental scaling is the most common non-surgical way to treat gum disease, which is also known as periodontitis. This will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and help your gums regain health. But if you have severe periodontal disease and your condition may require gum surgery, your dentist and periodontitis highly recommend a scaling and root planning before the dental surgery, as well as a thorough teeth-cleaning prior to the procedure. Is Dental Scaling Necessary?

The sticky, germs-filled plaque that causes gum disease tends to accumulate in the area along and just below the gum line. If you have gums that are slightly receded from your teeth, you may be at high risk for gum disease and your dentist may recommend scaling. Scaling is non-surgical, but it is a different type of procedure from a upgraded dental cleaning because it involves cleaning the areas of the tooth below the gum line.

The types of Dental Scaling Tools

There are two major types of scaling instruments and some dentists or dental hygienists may use both-

  • Scaling with self-held instruments: Your dentist or periodontist will use a dental scalar and curette to manually remove (scale) the plaque from the teeth. Because the dentist or dental hygienist can’t see the plaque, they rely on touch to identify areas of tartar buildup and rough spots and repairs by using handheld dental scaling tools.
  • Scaling with ultrasonic instruments: Ultrasonic scaling instruments clean plaque from the teeth with a vibrating metal tip that chips off the tartar and water spray to wash it away and keep the tip cool and get a permanent solution.