Is Scale and Root Planing Painful?

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Dental Scaling

For patients who have a persistent case of gum disease, the dentist may recommend a dental procedure referred to as wilmington dental scaling. This procedure is the most common method used to treat gum disease or periodontitis. Scaling removes plaque and tartar from the teeth and helps your gums properly reattach to the root of the tooth. In cases of severe periodontal disease where the condition requires gum surgery, the dentist and periodontist may suggest scaling, root planing and a thorough teeth-cleaning prior to the surgery.

Required Dental Scaling

The sticky and bacteria-filled plaque which causes gum disease commonly accumulates in the area found along and just below the gum line. Patients who have gums which are slightly receded from their teeth may be at an increased risk for gum disease. In this case, the dentist may recommend dental scaling. Scaling is a non-surgical procedure, but it is a procedure which is different from a traditional dental cleaning as it involves cleaning the areas of the tooth under the gum line.

Dental Scaling Tools

There are two different types of scaling instruments which are commonly used. Some dental professionals may choose to use both instruments which includes the following:

  • Scaling using hand-held instruments: The dentist or periodontist uses a dental scaler and curette to manually remove or scale the plaque off the tooth. Because the dentist is not able to see the plaque, they depend on their touch to determine which areas have tartar buildup or rough spots.
  • Scaling with ultrasonic instruments: Ultrasonic scaling instruments remove plaque from the teeth through the use of a vibrating metal tip which chips off the tartar. This is combined with a water spray to wash the tartar away and also keeps the tip cool.

Dental Scaling and Pain

During the teeth scaling process, the dentist or dental hygienist numbs the gums and tooth roots using a local anesthetic. Teeth scaling and root planing, however, rarely cause noticeable discomfort. The dentist or dental hygienist uses specialized tools to thoroughly remove the hardened deposits of plaque buildup above and below the gum line. Root planing also involves smoothing rough spots located on the root of the tooth as they can result in worsened gum disease from trapping and holding bacteria.

The entire procedure can be completed in a single visit, although the dentist typically works on one quadrant or one half of the mouth during each appointment. After a scaling and planing, patients should expect their gums to be numb from the anesthesia and potentially a little tender. By maintaining a good oral hygiene which includes tooth brushing twice a day and regular flossing, the gums should quickly return to their firm, healthy, and pink appearance.

It is important that your dental professional is familiar with your health history prior to performing the dental scaling and root planing procedures. Because the procedures can allow bacteria to get into the bloodstream, certain precautions may need to be taken to treat gum disease for patients who are at a higher risk for infections. This can include patients who have heart problems, liver disease or those who have a compromised immune system from an illness.

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