Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but if they aren’t cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease could lead to bone and tooth loss.
Dental scaling occurs with manual hand instruments, ultrasonic instruments or both. The hygienist will start the procedure with a thorough examination of your mouth. Next, an ultrasonic scaling device will be used to eliminate the plaque bacteria with sonic vibrations. The ultrasonic scaling device removes tartar (calculus), plaque and biofilm from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line. A manual instrument may be used next to remove the remainder.
Root planing involves detailed scaling of the root surface to decrease inflammation of the gum tissue. The hygienist scales the root surface to smooth out rough target areas, eliminating plaque and biofilm development. Scaling and root planing may take more than one visit to complete and may require a local anesthetic.