All That You Need to Know About Tooth Scaling and Polishing

Do you have a gum disease like gingivitis or a periodontal disease like periodontitis? If yes, you might be in need of dental scaling. You know you have gum disease if when you brush your teeth, your gums bleed on the bristles. Actually, gingivitis is a reversible condition, so there are things you can do before resorting to scaling. To prevent gingivitis, you need to limit your sugar intake, avoid tobacco consumption, use mouthwash, floss daily, brush twice a day, and replace your toothbrush every 3 months. You also need to attend checkups to detect any problems of cavities, gum disease, or oral cancer early on.

You can also use a special extra-strength or all-natural antibacterial mouthwash to treat your gingivitis, relieve bad breath, remove food particles, reduce bacteria, help ease pain, and soothe your inflamed, gums. With that said, if you neglect your gingivitis long enough, it can develop to full-blown periodontal disease that will make your teeth loose and wobbly because the condition eats away at the very roots of your teeth. In such extreme cases, dental scaling is a must.

What Is Dental Scaling and Polishing?

Dental scaling and polishing enables your dentist to stave off your ever-worsening gingivitis and maintain your oral hygiene and health at the same time. The consistency of your cleanings is essential to prevent dental diseases from developing. Polishing is done to finish what scaling started, usually when it comes to teeth stain removal. On that note, your prophylaxis and deep cleaning schedule might end up happening every three months, every month, or every week depending on the severity of your developing periodontal disease. You need dental services because antiseptic mouthwash, rinsing, and brushing daily might not be enough to address your issues in the long run.

The procedure of dental scaling and polishing is one carried out by a dentist who’s certified to offer such services. The dental professional is essentially tasked to clean around and under the gum line on the front and back of your teeth for the sake of removing plaque and tartar. Scaling removed the diseased parts of your teeth and gums and polishing is smoothening up those rough edges to foster the dental and gingival healing process. At any rate, to avoid having to resort to scaling, you should regularly attend your dental checkups and cleanings for at least every six months or twice a year.

All about Plaque, Tartar, Gingivitis, and Periodontal Disease

Your teeth are almost always bathed in saliva if you’re of the healthy sort and you’re not suffering from dry mouth syndrome. This saliva delivers many substances, including calcium, to your teeth to keep them healthy, strong, and protected. This is a great thing that your saliva is supposed to do, but this also means buildup of calcium deposits on your teeth if you don’t care of your plaque formation regularly.

Here are the essentials of dental scaling and polishing.

  • How Does Plaque Build Up Exactly? Plaque happens to everyone because everyone needs to eat in order to survive. It’s essentially the combination of bacteria, saliva, and proteins in your mouth that form a film or a thin layer of leftover that covers your teeth at all times until you brush it off. This plaque won’t turn into tartar or calculus as long as you regularly brush your teeth or treat your gingivitis with the right medical mouthwash. However, some people can’t help but be neglectful.
  • Calculus Isn’t Just a Math Subject: The dental version of calculus is just another name for tartar. It’s a chalky substance made of plaque and calcium that builds up over time. It’s hard to notice because it’s usually tooth-colored and mistaken as part of your teeth. However, it can also be black or brown in color, thus making it stand out like a sore thumb. A dentist should be able to figure out if you have calculus deposits on your teeth.
  • Tartar Is Not Tooth Cement or Filling: Don’t think that calculus filling in the gaps and cavities of your teeth is a good thing. Rather, it’s quite problematic. This is because tartar is still made of plaque and the bacteria contained herein are eating at it like hard candy while spewing acid all around. This then leads to bacteria thriving and spreading into your gums, which leads to gingivitis and periodontitis. They should be removed along with the plaque that helped them develop in the first place.
  • Plaque Buildup and Tartar: Plaque buildup that has turned into tartar or film that has calcium deposits on it will require a dentist to do scale them with special tools. Afterwards, your dentist should then polish the rest of your teeth clean of plaque and tartar, thus encouraging the healing process and a fresh beginning. The idea here is to stave off the progress of your periodontal disease by scraping off the diseased portions of your tooth root and gums so that they can be replaced with healthy tissue.
  • Bacteria Lives in Plaque: When you scratch that plaque off of your teeth and eat it, please don’t. It’s because the bacteria in your mouth lives in plaque. It’s both their home and their food source, like their personal gingerbread house.  Sugars, acids, and tiny food particles all go into the plaque that bacteria eats, which in turn has them produce or arguably defecate acid that gives your teeth cavities. It’s also these bacteria that can cause gum disease like gingivitis along with tooth decay. Keep in mind that you can avoid all of these problems simply by getting regular dental cleanings, brushing, and flossing.
  • How Gingivitis Makes Everything Worse: If left unaddressed or ignored, your gum disease will become full-blown periodontal disease. Healthy gums are what you need in order to keep the plaque out while fitting tightly around your teeth’s root and surface. These gums attach tot he tooth from1-3 millimeters below the gum line. Once your gums start becoming diseased, this tissue will loosen and bacterial pockets will form around the gaps.
  • Deep Bacterial Pockets: Bacterial pockets from loosened gums is a Petri dish of awfulness that tends to get filled with plaque, thus worsening your problems, giving you bad breath, and ultimately loosening your teeth’s anchor to your jawbone. You can’t reverse gum tissue that’s already gotten a bacterial infection. The most you can do is take an antibiotic, gargle with antibacterial mouthwash, and then have your dentist remove the diseased gum and teeth tissue in the hopes that healthy tissue can take their place.

Why Is Dental Scaling and Polishing Done?

The act of dental scaling itself involves removing the plaque beneath the gum line in order to treat your advanced gingivitis or early periodontal disease. This is usually recommended if you have pockets of bacteria and diseased gums plus teeth that are 4-millimeters deep or deeper. What’s more, you can’t brush the tartar away yourself because it goes way below the gum line, away from the reach of your traditional toothbrush. To wit:

  1. Leaving The Surfaces and Gum Line Completely Clean: Deep cleaning or scaling plus polishing and standard dental cleaning or prophylaxis exist to leave the surface and deep pockets of your teeth and gum line clean and bacteria-free. Once the teeth are smoothened out and the diseased parts of the gums are removed to encourage gingival healing, bacteria won’t be able to stick or spread in your mouth.  Dentist appointments for cleanings give you a better chance at keeping your mouth clean compared to simply depending on dental home care alone.
  2. What Does Scaling Feel Like? It’s not particularly comfortable, especially if you’re one of the patients who have sensitive gums. You might have to be injected with local anesthetic or topically receive the pain-numbing drug on your gum tissue to make the whole procedure more bearable for you. Talk to your dental care expert about your options for area desensitization. You might even opt to apply for sedative dentistry in case you have panic attacks having a dentist operate on your mouth (dentophobia).
  3. When Is Dental Scaling Done? Scaling is a routine operation done on patients in order to help them deescalate the development of gum disease that they’ve neglected to address early on, leading to parts of their gums and teeth deteriorating from all the bacterial activity there as well as the buildup of plaque and tartar. Standard prophylaxis or dental cleaning only cleans out the surface of the tooth. Scaling is when it goes deeper, right below the gum line, to get rid of bacteria and food buildup.
  4. Statistics for This Common Gum Disease Treatment: Dental scaling plus polishing and root planing or deep cleaning is a common treatment for patients suffering from gum disease like gingivitis. Nearly half of all adults in America or 47.2 percent have gum disease in one form or another. In senior citizens 65 years or older, the prevalence rates rise to 70.1 percent or the vast majority. If you’re an American, you aren’t alone if you’re recommended to undergo this service.

It’s not as bad in Europe, with only 5 percent to 20 percent middle-aged European adults suffering from the disease while senior citizens in Europe aged 65 years or older have 40 percent prevalence rates instead. Nevertheless, the percentage is high enough to necessitate gum disease treatment from E.U. citizens by visiting places like Thantakit Dental Clinic in Thailand. Thantakit offers quality dental tourism services that remain affordable even if you take into account the travel and hotel costs.

The Two Methods of Scaling: As established previously, dental scaling is the careful removal of plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the tooth’s surface that’s below the gum line before you start experiencing horrible symptoms like loose teeth that are wiggling like milk teeth that are about to fall off as well as tooth loss. With that said there are two scaling methods available to you. The first one involves your dentist scraping plaque and diseased gum and tooth tissue with a metal tool known as a curette or dental scaler.

The scaler is something that’s inserted below the gum line in order to access pockets and gaps that your toothbrush can never traverse. The second scaling technique involves your dental professional using an ultrasonic instrument instead. This advanced tool has a vibrating metal tip with a cool water spray that drills apart the hardened tartar, diseased material, and plaque bacteria in one fell swoop like a dental drill made for scaling and polishing. It’s also clean because all the bacteria get pooled into the water you’re supposed to spit out.

What About Root Planing? Root planing usually follows dental scaling as the last optional step in the deep cleaning service. Sometimes your gingivitis or periodontal disease hasn’t worsened enough to resort to this step. Other times, it’s an essential step after scaling is finished. This deep dental cleaning is approached like scaling and reaches even deeper into the gum line in order to access the tooth root and smoothen out its surface. It also removes diseased material, this time from the root itself.

This is necessary in order to remove the bacterial spread, promote healing, and ensure that the gums can reattach themselves to the surface of the root properly. Your gums and tooth can’t regenerate as long as the infected areas remain or the bacteria keep on spreading. Like with scaling, root planing can involve manual use of the curette or automated use of the vibrating ultrasonic instrument with a metal tip and cool water spray. Just remember to spit that water full of bacteria and diseased material out so that you won’t suffer from an infection elsewhere in your body.

To Summarize

For patients with gum disease, dental scaling and polishing are standard operating procedures. Scaling in particular is a dental cleaning variant that’s more advanced that prophylaxis exactly because it reaches below the gum line to remove the buildup of plaque. The processes of scaling, polishing, and root planing your teeth are collectively known as deep cleaning. It goes beyond general dental cleaning you get from your annual visit or regular checkup.

When you’re in need of scaling, that usually means you’ve neglected to address your early stage gingivitis and allowed it to become full-blown periodontal disease, thus necessitating more severe measures. Also remember that scaling and planing as well as polishing might take more than one visit, with each of them addressing a different portion of your mouth. There are dentists who divide the mouth by quadrants to methodically tackle each and every one.

Thantakit International Dental Center is Thailand’s longest established dental center. Situated in Bangkok, our clinic is renowned across the world as a destination for world-class dentistry, with most of our patients flying to us from Australia.

Please contact us today and get a FREE dental consultation.

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