What is Teeth Scaling?

If you have more plaque build up than what a standard dental cleaning chapel hill nc can address, the dentist may recommend scaling and root planing for a deeper cleaning.

Understanding Scaling

When you have gum disease, or gum pockets around your teeth larger than 3 millimeters the dentist needs stronger tools to remove the buildup and give the gums a chance to reattach to the teeth.  Think of scaling as having your carpet steam cleaned as compared to vacuuming or the twice yearly cleaning.

When Is Dental Scaling Necessary?

No matter how often or how well you brush your teeth and floss, you are going to experience some kind of plaque on the surface of your teeth.  The plaque comes from the food you eat and calcifies to form tartar.  The bacteria present in plaque and tartar lead to tooth decay and eventually cavities as well as gum disease and even tooth loss if untreated.

When you brush, floss and maintain your regular professional cleanings you prevent the likelihood of gum disease.  When your gums are healthy, the gums will attach tightly to the tooth to keep plaque and bacteria out.  Once plaque starts to form, it can start to prevent the gums from attaching as tightly to the teeth.  The gums are irritated and inflamed from the bacteria, the space between the gums and teeth grow allowing for more bacteria.  If these pockets become larger than 4 millimeters, the dentist may recommend scaling to treat the gum disease.  You may even notice symptoms like bleeding gums or bad breath from the extra pockets of bacteria.

Scaling and Root Planing Procedures

Scaling removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and root planing addresses the plaque below the gumline. The scaling and root planing can be completed by the dentist with a handheld thin tool or even an ultrasonic tool.  The ultrasonic tool vibrates and sprays water to remove the buildup and flush out the area.

What Does Scaling Feel Like?

Dental scaling is not as comfortable as a traditional dental cleaning and can be more uncomfortable if your gums are sensitive.  Be sure to talk to the dentist about local anesthetic options to provide you the opportunity to be more relaxed during your appointment.  The dentist may not be able to treat your whole mouth in one visit but be sure to talk to the dentist about your appointment and pain management options if you are nervous.

What to Expect Afterwards

After the dentist completes your scaling and root planing, your mouth may be a little sensitive or sore.  For people with more serious gum disease or more sensitive mouths, your mouth may even be a little swollen or have some residual bleeding.  Take care to follow the aftercare instructions from the dentist to help your mouth heal.  After your appointment, it is important to do your part at home with twice daily brushing, flossing and twice yearly dental cleaning.  Your dentist may want a follow up appointment after your scaling and root planing to confirm that your mouth is healing and the procedure was successful in treating your gum disease.

More on Teeth Cleaning & Exams : What does a Hygienist Do?

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Cornerstone Family Dentistry Chapel Hill NC

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At Cornerstone Family Dentistry in Chapel Hill, all our services are performed with the patient in mind. We want you to feel comfortable in the dental chair, confident in our work, and most importantly, we want you to fall in love with your smile again. If you would like to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions about cosmetic procedures that we offer, please contact us at (919) 595-1010.