Worried About Dental Scaling? Here's What To Expect

Finding out that you have gum disease can fill anyone with dread while they're in the dentist's chair. Matters only get worse when the procedure to fix the problem has a disconcerting name like dental scaling. The good news is, dental scaling isn't anywhere near as bad as the name can make it seem. If you're thinking about this procedure, here's what you can expect.

What It Is

Dental scaling, in essence, is simply a very in-depth cleaning along the gumline and under the edge of the gums. This type of cleaning isn't performed if your dental health is in good shape, but when you have gum disease, it's something dentists do to help reverse the condition.

Why it's Necessary

Gum disease typically doesn't just happen all on its own. A long-term build-up of plaque, tartar, and bacteria generally triggers gum disease and makes it worse if it isn't taken care of. Getting rid of these three elements on and under the gum line is the only way to start the healing process.

Think of it this way: if you had a skinned knee, you wouldn't leave grit and dirt in it and put a bandage on top. It would never heal that way! Your gums are the same way. If the irritants are left in place, the inflammation and pain will continue, and the disease can get worse.

What Happens

The first thing your dentist will do is perform a standard full cleaning of your teeth and gums. This will get rid of the majority of your plaque and tartar and will ensure that your teeth are healthy and intact.

The dental scaling will occur after the initial cleaning is finished. Your dentist will either use a small dental pick or an ultrasonic tool to perform the scaling. The pick will gently scrape away at build-up and is so slender that it can slide under the edge of unhealthy gums.

The ultrasonic tool is becoming more common, and is more comfortable for patients. If can break up build-up under the surface with ultrasonic waves and simultaneously flushes the area with water, getting rid of the build-up entirely.

Dental scaling is typically a fairly comfortable procedure to undergo and doesn't require anesthesia. If you're feeling nervous, you can always ask your dentist for more information or discuss the possibility of a sedative to help calm your nerves while you undergo the procedure.