Scaling and Prophylaxis

Scaling is a type of dental cleaning. It removes plaque and tartar from around and below the gum line and help in controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. It also helps gums to reattach firmly to the teeth. This procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning hence your mouth may be numbed during the scaling process. The cleaning may take two to four or more visits to complete.

Dental scaling is the most common nonsurgical way to treat and prevent gum disease, which is also known as periodontitis. Tooth scaling involves the mechanical use of a dental instrument that scrapes away bacterial plaque and calculus from the tooth. Deep scaling is performed on all parts of the tooth that is exposed, the crown of the tooth, as well as the portion that is normally covered by, but not attached to, the gum.

 Before  After Scaling

If you have gums that are slightly receded from your teeth, you may be at increased risk for gum disease and your dentist may recommend scaling. The plaque formed by bacteria can damage the bones and tissues surrounding the area and through blood circulation it can reach to other organs of the body which may cause severe health problems in the future. Scaling helps in removing the bacteria and plaques formed by the bacteria in the mouth. In combination with good personal dental hygiene, scaling the tooth surface is an effective treatment for early periodontal disease. The sticky, bacteria-filled plaque that causes gum disease tends to accumulate in the area along and just below the gum line. Scaling is nonsurgical, but it is a different type of procedure from a standard dental cleaning because it involves cleaning the areas of the tooth below the gum line.

We do scaling at least for two sittings. First visit most of the deposits are removed without any discomfort to the patient. Then we recall the patient after 5 days to make sure any deposits are left behind, which can be easily removed. We also educate the patient about proper brushing technique and check whether they are following it properly

There are two types of scaling methods.

  • Scaling teeth with hand-held instruments: In this method, dentist will use a dental scaler and curette to manually remove the plaque from the teeth. Because the dentist or dental hygienist can’t see the plaque, they rely on touch to identify areas of tartar build up and rough spots. Hand scalers are commonly used tools in dental clinics. There are varieties of hand scalers but usually everything has a handle portion and at least one bladed, balled or pointed tool tip, a common example being a bent metal tip.
  • Scaling teeth with ultrasonic instruments: Ultrasonic scaling instruments clean plaque from the teeth with a vibrating metal tip that chips off the tartar and water spray to wash it away and keep the tip cool. Sonic and ultrasonic scalers are powered by a system that causes the tip to vibrate. Sonic scalers are typically powered by an air-driven turbine. Many ultrasonic scalers also include a liquid output or lavage, which aids in cooling the tool during use. The lavage can also be used to deliver antimicrobial agents.
  • Removal of adherent plaque and calculus with hand instruments can also be performed prophylactically (prophylaxis) on patients without periodontal disease. Dental prophylaxis is a dental procedure which is performed with the goal of reducing the risk of gum and tooth disease. Teeth prophylaxis is recommended at intervals which can vary from six months to two years, depending on a patient’s history. In a dental prophylaxis, the dentist performs both scaling and polishing. During the periodontal scaling process, tools are used to remove tartar, plaque and stain from the gums and teeth and provide a complete oral care. The polishing process smoothens the teeth to remove rough spots which might otherwise attract bacteria. Some dentists also offer tooth sealant services, which are designed to prevent decay in teeth.


Will Scaling damage the teeth?
The tools that are currently being used in scaling cannot damage the healthy teeth or enamel of the healthy teeth. Scaling removes the plaque and hence controls the demineralization of the tooth enamel and promotes the remineralization as well.

Does scaling cause spacing of teeth?
This is a wrong belief by many of us that scaling causes space between the teeth. During the process dentist only removes the bacterial deposits or plaques formed on your teeth and helps in reducing the damage or infection. If the patient already has a significant bone or gum loss, those spaces will be exposed. Usually scaling prevents the further damage and spacing of your teeth.