Are Scaling and Cleaning the Same Thing

Scaling is part of the dental cleaning process. It is a nonsurgical method for treating gum disease. Scaling may be used if the gum disease has not progressed into the severe category. It can prevent it from getting worse. However, if someone has gum disease that has progressed to a severe state, the dentist might recommend root planing and scaling before doing a surgical procedure.

How is scaling performed?

Just below and along the gum line, plaque can accumulate. Plaque is sticky and full of bacteria and can cause gum disease. As it accumulates along the gum line it increases the risk of developing gum disease. In some cases, a dentist will recommend scaling. It is a nonsurgical procedure but it does more than just standard cleaning since it cleans the areas of a tooth that are below the gum line, not just above it.

What are the types of scaling?

Dentists may use a couple of different types of instruments for scaling. For some situations and procedures, they may use both.

  • Hand-held scaling instruments: The dentist might use a dental scaler along with a curette and manually remove plaque. They cannot always see the plaque or tartar buildup so they have to rely on their sense of touch to find the rough spots.
  • Ultrasonic scaling instruments: An ultrasonic scaling instrument will clean plaque off of teeth using a metal tip that vibrates and chips away the tartar. A spray of water will then wash it away as well as keep the tip cool during the procedure.

When will a dentist recommend scaling?

Routine cleanings can be essential for preventing gum disease, but scaling is used to treat the condition. It’s considered a method of “deep cleaning” for the teeth and is the most commonly used treatment for periodontal disease.