Are you a Richmond, VA resident wondering, “What is teeth scaling?” If you’re unsure what dental scaling is, you’re not alone.

Do you remember when you last went to the dentist and they use a metal tool to scrape your teeth? That’s scaling!

Teeth scaling is a routine procedure that dentists perform during any dental check-up visit. It’s safe, painless, and keeps your teeth strong and healthy. Dentists perform scaling to remove plaque and other types of build-up from your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Dentists can also use a scaling teeth cleaning procedure in tandem with root planing for individuals with chronic periodontal disease (severe gum disease).

In this article, we’re providing you with insider information about teeth scaling and how teeth scaling works. We’ll also spend some time answering questions like “Is scaling teeth really necessary” and “Is scaling harmful for teeth.”

Keep reading to learn more about the teeth scaling process.

What Is Teeth Scaling?

Have you ever heard your dentist mention scaling, but you’ve been too afraid to ask, “What does scaling mean in dentistry?”

Teeth scaling is a routine procedure that dentists perform during any regular dental cleaning. Every time you’ve attended a cleaning, the dentist has scaled your teeth—even if you didn’t realize that’s what they were doing.

Here’s some more information and answers to questions about teeth scaling.

How Teeth Scaling Works

Teeth scaling is a safe, non-surgical procedure that doesn’t require any pain medications.

Dental scaling involves using a metal, hook-like instrument to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. Dentists will use the tool to scrape the outside of your teeth to eliminate any plaque that routine oral hygiene doesn’t remove.

There are two types of scalers dentists use:

  1. Hand scalers
  2. Ultrasonic scalers

Hand Scaling

When dentists scale your teeth with a hand scaler, they manually scrape the plaque and tartar build-up off the surface of your teeth. Hand scaling is very effective for removing surface-level plaque and tartar build-up.

Ultrasonic Scalers

Ultrasonic scalers use vibrations to scrub off the plaque and tartar build-up quickly and efficiently. The tips on these scalers are small enough to clean better in hard-to-reach crevices than a hand scaler. Ultrasonic scalers also spray water to help clear away the debris. 

Dentists often use ultrasonic scalers when they perform scaling and root planing (more on this later) on patients with severe gum disease (periodontitis), but some dentists also use them on patients without periodontitis.

Both scalers are effective and do their job. Whether by hand or with an ultrasonic scaler, the ultimate goal of scaling is to clean your teeth as best as possible.

Is Scaling Teeth Really Necessary? 

Even if you have excellent oral hygiene habits and healthy gums, it’s essential to see the dentist regularly and get your teeth scaled.

The purpose of dental scaling is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Unhealthy gums can develop gingivitis (gum disease). If you leave gingivitis untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can go a long way in keeping your teeth clean, healthy, and strong. But there will always be areas that you can’t reach. Dental scaling is a way to reach and clean these areas to ensure you don’t suffer from gum disease or tooth decay.

How Often Should Scaling Be Done?

As long as you have healthy gums, dentists recommend scheduling a cleaning once every six months. These regular visits will allow your dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are still healthy.

Dentists advise patients with gingivitis to get their teeth scaled more frequently depending on the severity of their condition. If you’re concerned about your risks for gum disease, you can reach out to your dentist to get their recommendation

Is Scaling Harmful for Teeth?

Many people wonder if dental scaling can be harmful to your teeth. As long as you’re getting your teeth scaled by a professional and not doing it yourself at home, teeth scaling is safe.

As with any procedure, there are a few small risks that can occur from teeth scaling. The most common complaint is some minor gum pain and sensitivity after the procedure. This pain or sensitivity typically won’t last longer than a couple of days at most. 

Teeth scaling is a routine and effective procedure for removing plaque and tartar from the surface of teeth. But what if someone has chronic periodontal disease that affects gum tissue?

Teeth Scaling and Root Planing

We discussed general scaling, but now we want to mention the teeth scaling and root planing procedure briefly. 

What Is Root Planing?

Teeth scaling cleans the surface of your teeth but doesn’t reach under your gums. Individuals with severe gum disease (periodontitis) often require a more rigorous scaling process to:

  • Remove bacteria
  • Restore gum health
  • Prevent tooth decay

Chronic periodontal disease causes your gums to pull away from your teeth. Scaling and root planing is the process that dentists use to clean deeper into your gums and help gums reattach to your teeth. 

Teeth scaling and root planing often requires a two-and-a-half-hour appointment, and a local anesthetic may be used to control pain. After your dentist finishes the process, a follow-up visit is usually recommended. 

Insurance often covers 60-80% of a scaling and root planing procedure.

What’s the Process of Scaling and Root Planing Like?

Dentists will use a scaling tool to remove bacteria in your gums. Instead of only focusing on the surface of your teeth, your dentist will dig deeper into your gums and the root area. 

Once your dentist finishes scaling, they’ll perform the root planing part of the procedure.

Root planing involves using a scaling tool to smooth down your roots. Smoothing teeth roots encourages your gums to reattach to your teeth.

Individuals who suffer from chronic periodontal disease often need more frequent gingivitis scaling treatment than every six months. If you have severe gum disease, don’t be surprised if your dentist wants you to schedule appointments every three or four months.

Your Dental Scaling Experts in Richmond, VA 

We started our discussion on dental scaling by asking and answering the question, “What is teeth scaling?” Here’s a quick review of what we talked about in this article:

  1. Teeth scaling is a procedure dentists use during routine teeth cleanings to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of teeth. Dentists use a sharp, metal tool to scrape off any build-up on your teeth. It’s a safe procedure that’s covered by insurance. 
  2. The dental scaling process is necessary to ensure tooth and gum health. Without a scaling procedure, you’re more prone to gum disease. Poor oral hygiene and untreated gum disease can lead to tooth decay and loss.
  3. Dentists perform teeth scaling and root planing when people have severe gum disease (chronic periodontal disease). A gingivitis scaling treatment removes bacteria from the surface of teeth and deep within the gums. Root planing smooths down teeth roots so gums can reattach to teeth.

Are you in need of a general check-up or a more advanced scaling and root planing procedure?

At Northside Dental Co, we take pride in putting your oral health first. Our trained staff and dentists make sure you’re welcomed, comfortable, and informed about your oral needs. Whether you need a regular dental check-up or are suffering from gum disease, we’re ready and prepared to provide the dental care necessary.

Book an appointment online and make your oral health a top priority today.