During your visit to the dentist, you might have heard him/her suggesting that you need to get 'scaling' or 'cleaning' done. If you're wondering what it is and is it necessary that you get it done, then read on.
Scaling is a common non-surgical treatment for removal of infected deposits – stains, plaque or calculus - from the tooth surface. These deposits if not removed lead to tender, swollen or bleeding gums (gingivitis). If left to progress further, it can lead to further deterioration of the gums and supporting tooth structures. Such a condition is called periodontitis or pyorrhea.
A few minutes after brushing, a very thin layer made up of saliva, proteins, and bacteria (also called the pellicle) is formed on the tooth surface which acts as a base for bacterial attachment and growth. Within a few hours the accumulation of various species of bacteria along with sugar from the food we eat results in formation of a pale yellow or white sticky substance known as dental plaque.
Plaque formation on the teeth is a continuous process. If it is not removed within 10-14 hours by brushing, it mineralizes into calculus or tartar. Calculus once formed cannot be removed by brushing and has to be removed professionally - by scaling.
The tendency for these deposits to form depends on various factors like diet, quality/quantity of saliva formed, oral hygiene habits etc. These factors vary from person to person and so, even though you may be brushing twice daily, you may still require regular cleaning.
Improper brushing habits/technique, irregularly placed teeth, smoking, tobacco chewing, salivary and dietary factors all contribute to repeated formation of plaque and calculus. Thus, some persons may require periodic scaling.
Most dentists recommend a twice a year routine. But, if you maintain your oral hygiene exceptionally well, then you may need to get it done once in a year/s.
At Dentedge we monitor your oral hygiene for the first 6 mos.-1 yr after your first cleaning session is completed. Depending on your individual need, you are advised on how often you require scaling to be done. The golden rule is to have a routine dental check up every 6 months.
If there are only superficial deposits, it is not painful. If there are deep deposits, usually a local anaesthetic spray/gel is applied on your gums before the procedure and hence you would not experience any pain.
There may be slight bleeding as the plaque and calculus usually cause gum inflammation and touching highly inflamed gums can cause bleeding.
It must be emphasized again that scaling of teeth does not weaken them but prevents gum diseases which bring about bleeding gums and if not checked leading to more serious and extensive gum problems.