Dental Scaling: An Overview For Patients

If you've been struggling with gum disease for a while and treatments like antiseptic mouthwash and more frequent brushing have not corrected the problem, then your dentist may recommend you undergo a procedure called dental scaling. This is essentially a "deep cleaning" treatment that will kick start your fight against gum disease, hopefully getting it under control before it becomes worse and leads to loose or missing teeth. Here's a look at what you can expect from a dental scaling procedure.

What does dental scaling entail?

A normal dental cleaning focuses on only cleaning the portions of your teeth that are exposed above the gums. For patients with more advanced gum disease, this is not overly helpful, since bacteria can hide beneath the gums and perpetuate the condition. Dental scaling is a more advanced cleaning procedure that removes the plaque and bacteria not only from the exposed portion of the tooth, but also from the portion of the tooth beneath the gums.

Your dentist will use a special tool called a scaling device to reach beneath your gum line. This device is very thin and uses sound waves to break up the plaque and bacteria in this area. A small, scraping instrument may be used in areas where the plaque is particularly thick. This procedure is typically performed by a dentist rather than a dental hygienist.

Are dental scaling or the recovery period painful?

Your dentist will likely use local anesthetic to keep you comfortable during the procedure since it can be quite painful, especially if your gums are badly infected. Local anesthetic is administered with a simple injection into the cheek area. It will keep your mouth numb, but you will be completely conscious.

One the anesthetic wears off, you may find that your mouth is a bit sore. However, this soreness should not be so severe that it keeps you from performing your regular tasks and obligations. You may want to stick to soft foods for a day or two. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used if needed.

How will your gum disease progress after dental scaling?

Most patients find that dental scaling is very effective in getting rid of their gum disease, as long as they follow up the treatment with proper dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth thoroughly twice per day, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash should help get rid of gum disease completely in the weeks following your dental scaling treatment. Your dentist will likely want to schedule a checkup a week or so after your procedure to evaluate your progress and determine if another scaling treatment is needed.

For a local dentist, contact a dentist such as Hart Dayton DMD.