What Is Tooth Scaling?

Scaling is a cleaning procedure that removes tartar (calculus) from the surface of the teeth and under the gumline. It can be performed with a manual dental scaler or an ultrasonic tool.


Regular professional cleanings and proper home care are necessary to prevent tooth decay & gum disease. If left untreated, plaque and tartar buildup can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Plaque Buildup

The bacteria, proteins and saliva in your mouth create a thin film that coats your teeth called plaque. This coating is usually whitish and can cause problems if it’s not removed regularly with brushing and flossing.

Plaque can cause cavities, gingivitis (gum disease) and bone loss if it’s left untreated. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that eat through tooth enamel and attack gum tissue and the roots of teeth.

When you have healthy gums, the tissues fit tightly around the teeth and keep plaque from accumulating. However, if gum disease is present, the tissues can loosen and eventually recede. This leaves behind pockets in the gums that can collect food, debris and bacteria.

If the pockets get too deep, they can cause inflammation and infection of the gums. Infections lead to periodontal disease, a serious oral health condition that can affect the entire body.

Fortunately, dental scaling can remove plaque buildup and eliminate it from the teeth and gums before it causes more severe problems. During the procedure, your dentist or hygienist will numb the area so you don’t feel any pain during the scaling process and will use specialized tools to thoroughly clean both the surface of the teeth and the hardened plaque buildup underneath your gum line.

Scaling is a standard treatment to help prevent chronic gum disease, and it’s done on almost every patient. It’s especially important for patients with chronic periodontal disease, because removing the plaque and tartar helps deter the progression of this condition.

It’s also important for people with crooked teeth, poor oral hygiene or medications that can contribute to plaque formation. In addition, people with diabetes or other conditions that affect oral health such as heart disease, seizures or autoimmune diseases can also be at risk for developing gum disease.

The good news is that you can fight plaque by maintaining a consistent oral health routine and visiting your dentist twice a year for cleanings. In addition to brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash, eating a low-sugar diet is one of the best ways to prevent plaque from forming.

Gum Disease

The bacteria in plaque can build up below your gum line if you don’t take good care of your teeth and gums. Over time, the plaque hardens into a sticky film called tartar (calculus). If left untreated, this can lead to serious gum disease.

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings. It also helps to stop tobacco use and to eat a healthy diet.

If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing to remove the bacteria below the gum line. This treatment can help reduce swelling, the depth of gum pockets and the risk of infection.

During this procedure, your dentist will clean your teeth and remove any plaque or calculus that has built up. You may have mild discomfort or pain, but this will be temporary and should resolve on its own within a few days.

In some cases, your dentist will insert medication directly into cleaned gum pockets to prevent infection and control pain. They may also recommend mouth rinses and antibiotics to keep your gums healthy while they heal.

After your scaling and root planing, you should continue to maintain good oral hygiene at home by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. If you have periodontal disease, you should also eat a healthy diet and avoid tobacco use.

If your dentist determines that you have advanced periodontitis (severe gum disease) and require surgical treatment, he or she will likely perform a procedure called gingival grafting to replace lost gum tissue and restore the health of your mouth. The graft will also help anchor your teeth and make them look better.

Gum disease is an inflammatory disorder that causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving gaps called gum pockets. These gaps trap plaque and cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. If left untreated, this can lead to tooth loss and other complications.

If you have gum disease, it’s important to find a doctor who specializes in periodontal care and has experience with this type of treatment. The team at Premier Periodontics is experienced in the latest techniques to treat and reverse periodontal disease. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Gum Pockets

Gum pockets can be a sign of gum disease, especially when they’re deep and filled with bacteria. If left untreated, they can destroy the gum tissue and even the bone in the jaw. They also allow oral bacteria to travel to other parts of the body via the bloodstream, resulting in infections in the heart and lungs.

Healthy gums are firm, pink and situated close to your teeth. They’re attached to the teeth by a small groove called the sulcus that’s narrower than the tooth itself.

The sulcus is a space where food particles and bacteria collect on a daily basis, and brushing and flossing can dislodge them. However, gum disease causes the sulcus to widen into a pocket that is too large for the toothbrush to fit inside.

To diagnose gum disease, your dentist or hygienist can measure the depth of the pocket with a periodontal probe. This tool is designed to measure the pocket depth in a precise, calibrated way. The depth is measured in millimeters, and a 4 mm measurement typically indicates a healthy sulcus or a periodontal pocket, although it can be higher in cases of mild gum disease (gingivitis) where inflammation hasn’t spread beyond the gum tissue.

During dental checkups, your dentist or hygienist will place the probe in the sulcus and read the measurements to identify whether the sulcus is a normal sulcus or a periodontal pockets. They can also determine the depth of the pockets with a dental X-ray, so they can better monitor the condition of your gums and determine if they’re getting worse or better.

In early-stage gum disease, a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line may be enough to resolve the issue. Your dentist may also recommend an enhanced at-home oral care regimen to help keep gum disease from reoccurring or getting worse.

Once a pocket has become too large to be effectively cleaned, your dentist will prescribe additional treatments and techniques to reduce the size of the pockets and eliminate any infection. These include professional cleanings, antibacterial mouth rinses and medication inserted into the pockets during a professional dental visit. In severe cases, your hygienist or your periodontist may recommend surgical solutions to repair lost gum tissue. These specialized procedures can help rebuild ligament attachment fibers and restore tissues that have been destroyed by an advanced case of gum disease.


Tooth scaling is a dental procedure that removes plaque, bacteria, and tartar from your teeth. It’s commonly performed to treat gum disease, but it can also be used as a preventative treatment to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Scaling is typically done by a dental hygienist or dentist using a specialized tool to scrape away plaque and other debris from both the tooth surface and the roots. The tools can be manual or ultrasonic.

During the procedure, the dentist or hygienist uses a local anesthetic to numb your gum tissue and reduce pain during the process. You can expect some sensitivity after the procedure, but this should subside within a few days.

Your dentist might recommend that you brush your teeth softly and use a desensitizing toothpaste. You might also need to avoid eating crunchy or chewy foods while you’re healing.

In many cases, you’ll be able to resume normal oral hygiene activities immediately after your tooth scaling. This will help speed up the recovery process and prevent further complications.

However, if you experience sensitivity or tenderness after your scaling or root planing procedure, you might need to take an over-the-counter pain reliever to manage the discomfort. You can also rinse with saltwater to help soothe the area.

You’ll need to see your dentist for a follow-up appointment after scaling and root planing to ensure that the gums are healing properly and if any pockets have developed. If your dentist finds that you don’t need another procedure, he or she might schedule regular maintenance appointments to make sure the pockets have shrunk.

Depending on the severity of your gum disease, you may need several visits to your dentist for scaling and root planing. In some cases, a hygienist or dentist will scale and root plan both your upper and lower teeth in one visit.

If you experience pain or sensitivity after scaling or root planing, your dentist might recommend that you take over-the-counter pain relievers to ease the discomfort. You can also rinse with saltwater, avoid cold or hot food, and consume nutrient-rich foods to promote healing and reduce sensitivity.