Dental Cleaning vs Scaling: What is the difference between teeth cleaning and teeth scaling?

What is a Dental Cleaning?

Routine dental teeth cleanings are necessary to keep your teeth healthy and prevent the build-up of plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Typically, you should be getting your teeth cleaned every 6 months, or sooner if recommended by your dentist. The cleaning will usually be done by a dental hygienist and likely include the following:

• The dental hygienist should examine your overall mouth and teeth health. Sometimes they will take x-rays as well.

• They may use a scaler (which you will read more about below) to remove excess plaque prior to starting the cleaning process.

• The hygienist will then clean your teeth with a powered toothbrush by using toothpaste and then a polish afterward. As a bonus, you usually get to choose your favorite flavor.

• Perhaps the least favorite part of a dental cleaning is flossing. It’s not the most comfortable experience unless you floss your teeth every day twice a day – and most of us don’t.

• Finally, the hygienist will give your mouth a good rinse, and do a fluoride treatment to protect your teeth against cavities. Again, the best part is you get to pick your favorite flavor.

• Depending on your dental office, the dentist may stop by at the end of your cleaning to double-check your teeth for cavities or areas that might need additional attention. As long as everything looks okay, you can be on your way and not have to go back for another 6 months.

What is Dental Scaling?

Is scaling the same as deep cleaning? Deep cleaning usually includes scaling and root planning. Dental Scaling is a routine outpatient dental procedure that is performed due to the build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth and the effects of periodontal disease (or gum disease). Plaque is a film on your teeth that forms when the food you eat mixes with the bacteria in your mouth. The plaque then hardens into tartar and becomes more difficult to remove by simply brushing your teeth. For this reason, you may need to get scaling done. The following are two different kinds of scaling:

Handheld instruments

Dentists use handheld metal tools or instruments called dental scalers to manually scrape off plaque. These tools are able to clean below the gumline, where you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach with a toothbrush.

Ultrasonic instruments

An alternative to handheld tools is ultrasonic ones. You may be familiar with this instrument – it’s a pulsating brush that sprays cold water at a high speed. This tool basically blasts the hardened bacteria on your teeth and flushes them out.

What is Root Planning?

Root planning quite literally addresses the ‘root’ of your teeth by smoothing them and is another form of cleaning your teeth below your gumline. Smoothing the roots of your teeth helps your gums reattach to them more easily. Both root planning and dental scaling are the first steps your dentist will likely take to help prevent gum disease.

Is Dental Scaling Painful?

Not all dental scaling is painful, it just depends on how much plaque you have and how healthy your gums are. If you have sensitive teeth or your dentist is concerned it might be painful, then they may give you a local anesthetic to numb the area prior to performing the procedure.