Why Teeth Scaling (Dental Scaling) Is So Important

Teeth scaling is a practice involving the removal of plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth, both above and below the gum line. Also called dental scaling, the practice is often necessary once gum disease begins to take hold due to the accumulation of plaque. Scaling is also performed when gum disease is not present, as a preventive measure.

Brushing Is Not Always Enough - In most instances, regular brushing and flossing keeps the teeth in reasonably good shape. An annual or semi-annual cleaning by a dentist is also helpful. On occasion, the dentist may need to scrape away plaque that brushing and regular cleaning can't reach or otherwise contend with. It's when the plaque begins to get out of hand, usually as a result of less than satisfactory efforts with the toothbrush, that a full-scale dental scaling procedure may be in order.  Teeth scaling is sometimes accompanied by root planing, where plaque buildup is removed from the surfaces of the roots, and the roots are then planed smooth to help prevent plaque from forming in the future.

If plaque is allowed to accumulate, the gums will eventually become irritated, and often become inflamed. The medical term for inflamed gums is gingivitis, a form of gum disease. If gingivitis is allowed to go untreated, pockets develop between the gums and the surfaces of the teeth. These pockets enable even more plaque to build up. Eventually, the gums become infected, leading to a condition called periodontitis. In a worst-case scenario, not only is gum loss experienced, but bone loss can occur in the jaw bone, which eventually will lead to a loss of teeth once supporting tissue begins to disappear.

Partial Scaling Can Be Done At Home - Teeth scaling is a procedure that is normally done by a dentist, but you can also do it at home, although to a somewhat limited degree. In fact, regular removal of plaque and calculus, also called tartar, will keep your teeth healthy and bright looking, since dental scaling also removes stains from the teeth. A scaling procedure will still occasionally need to be performed by a dentist. If you decide to do dental scaling at home, you should never attempt to do it below the gum line. Leave that part of the process to the professionals. A dental scaler for use at home is not terribly expensive. Scaling your teeth may require more time than flossing, but it does not need to be done on a daily basis. Once a week, or even once a month, should help keep your teeth stain and tartar free, at least above the gum line. If you do choose to use a dental scaler at home, make certain to keep it clean. As careful as you are, there is always the possibility of poking into the gums, which could lead to an infection.

The dental scaler you may elect to use at home is similar to the one you'll see used in a dental office. A dentist however will usually rely mainly on an ultrasonic cleaning tool, though he will still use a hand scaler for the harder to reach places as well as below the gum line

Low Risk And Worth It - Teeth scaling, when performed by a dentist, is a relatively low risk procedure. While there are a few side effects that might be experienced, the alternative, gingivitis or periodontal disease, makes any possible side effect inconsequential by comparison. The real danger associated with dental scaling lies in not doing it often enough, or ignoring it altogether. Improper scaling can also be a cause of certain undesirable side effects, including swollen gums, and even loosened teeth, which is one reason for not attempting dental scaling below the gum line at home, but instead leaving it up to someone who is trained in the process and knows what he or she is doing. Visiting your dentist annually, or better yet, semi-annually, will allow your dentist to provide you with a heads-up as to the condition of your teeth, and inform you as to whether gum disease is present, or in any danger of developing. How often dental scaling is needed will vary from person to person, and your dentist is in the best position to determine if and when scaling is needed.

Brushing-Flossing-Scaling - Brushing and flossing your teeth are of course the recommended procedures for keeping your teeth bright and healthy, but brushing and flossing are sometimes not enough. Once tarter begins to form, it is not always easily removed by either brushing or flossing. It's important to recognize is that tarter is a film of bacteria, a film that over time will become thicker and thicker if not removed. Tarter isn't dead tissue. It is in fact an infection. It's an infection that normally is so mild it does not cause problems. But if it is not attended to, it can lead to tooth decay and/or gum disease. A disease of the gums, such as periodontitis, is not a mild infection and it can often become a very serious infection. When you think of maintaining healthy teeth, think B-F-S, brushing, flossing, and scaling.