We all know how important it is to visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup, but for those who skip those twice yearly appointments, you may need some extra care in the form of dental scaling.
Over the course of time, plaque builds up in everyone’s mouth. Saliva, bacteria, and proteins make a thin film that covers your teeth. When you eat, tiny particles, acids, and sugars from your food stick to this film, creating plaque. Brushing helps get rid of some of the buildup, but there are plenty of places your toothbrush and dental floss just can’t reach, particularly at the gumline. This excess plaque can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Take a look in the mirror. If you have healthy gums, the tissue fits snuggly around your teeth and attaches to your teeth one to three millimeters below the gumline. But if you don’t take care of gumline plaque, it can cause the tissue to loosen and recede to four millimeters or more. This makes a perfect pocket for even more plaque to hang out. This plaque can give you bad breath, or it can lead to an even bigger problem: gum disease or periodontitis, an infection of the gums and a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
Unfortunately, gum disease is pretty common in the United States. A report in the Journal of Dental Research finds that nearly half of all adults, or about 65 million people over the age of 30, need extra attention to keep their teeth in tip-top shape. That extra attention may come in the recommendation of dental scaling to remove the plaque beneath your gumline and treat the gum disease.
What Happens During Dental Scaling
There are two ways to perform scaling. One is with handheld instruments, and the other is with an ultrasonic scaler. The handheld instruments are metal tools known as a dental scaler and curette. They are inserted beneath the gumline to get to the places and plaque your toothbrush can’t reach. The ultrasonic scaler has a vibrating metal tip combined with a cool water spray. The tip chips away as the water flushes the pocket out.
At Fisher Pointe Dental, we may recommend an additional procedure after your dental scaling called root planning. Root planning reaches down to the surface of the tooth’s root. Done similar to scaling, it smooths the surface of the root so the gums can reattach properly.
Dental scaling can be uncomfortable, so we can use a local anesthetic to make it less painful. The procedure is also often done in several visits. We’ll either divide your mouth into four or two sections for four visits or two.
After your treatment, your gums may feel sore, swell, or bleed. A desensitizing toothpaste and prescription mouthwash can help. It’s important that you practice good oral hygiene after the procedure so that the plaque doesn’t build up again, leading to further gum troubles.
To keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, call (313) 882-1490 to make an appointment to see our dentist and hygienists at Fisher Pointe Dental in Grosse Pointe.