How Much Do You Know About Dental Scaling?

Posted on Posted in Periodontology

What is Dental Scaling?

Dental Scaling is defined as the process by which dental plaque, calculus and debris are removed from both supragingival (above the gum) and subgingival (below the gum) tooth surfaces. Dental Scaling can be performed by using either ultrasonic instrument (ultrasonic scaling) or hand instrument (hand scaling). Nowadays, ultrasonic scaling is more commonly performed as compared to the hand scaling procedure.

Hand Scaling – Photo By Milenafoto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
What Are The Advantages Of Ultrasonic Scaling?

  1. The design of the ultrasonic scaling tips are smaller and thinner as compared to the usual hand scaling instruments, thus making it easier to remove dental calculus and plaque.
  2. The modified scaling tips do not have sharp edges, thus causing less damage to the gum tissue.
  3. Ultrasonic scaler comes with water lavage system which flushes away all the debris during the scaling process.
  4. Ultrasonic scaling takes shorter time as compared to hand scaling procedure.
  5. Ultrasonic scalers are more effective in removing dental plaque, calculus and debris as compared to hand scaling.
  6. Ultrasonic scaling could remove overhanging restorations & stains easily.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Ultrasonic Scaling?

  1. The water lavage system of the ultrasonic scaling instruments produces contamination aerosols which contain microorganism, blood, saliva and oral debris.
  2. Ultrasonic scaling produces some noise, which may cause discomfort to some people.
  3. Patients might experience tooth hypersensitivity during the ultrasonic scaling procedure.
  4. Ultrasonic scalers require power supply in order to operate while hand scaling can be performed without power supply.

Why Do You Need Ultrasonic Scaling?

  1. Ultrasonic scaling is done to remove the dental calculus and plaque from the oral cavity. Dental plaque and calculus have to be removed regularly in order to prevent common oral diseases (especially dental caries and periodontal diseases) from occurring.
  2. Ultrasonic scalers can be used to remove over-hanging restorations (fillings).
  3. Ultrasonic scalers can be used in periodontal debridement procedure.
  4. Staining due to coffee, tea or smoking can be removed by using ultrasonic scaling instruments.

Dental Scaling (Before & After) – Photo By Onetimeuseaccount (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
What Are The Contraindications Of Ultrasonic Scaling?

  1. People with pacemaker in the heart.
  2. People with communicable diseases.
  3. Young children.
  4. Patients with gag reflex, or difficulty in swallowing.
  5. Patients with demineralized enamel surface or tooth hypersensitivity.
  6. People with porcelain crown, titanium implants or composite restorations.
Tooth Polishing After Dental Scaling

What Happens After Dental Scaling?

  1. Periodontal health can be improved.
  2. Gingival (gum) inflammation and bleeding will be reduced or even stopped.
  3. Periodontal pockets and tooth mobility will be reduced.
  4. Gingival pain will be reduced.
  5. Gingivitis (inflammation of gum) could be eliminated if proper oral hygiene is maintained after dental scaling.
  6. Soft tissue and bone destruction caused by periodontitis could be reduced or arrested.
  7. Gingival infection could be eliminated.

Good dental health is good overall health. Taking care of your teeth means more than merely Tooth Brushing and Flossing. For complete oral health care, it’s important to visit a dentist every 6 months for a regular dental checkup and professional cleaning (dental scaling and polishing).  By doing so, any sign of tooth decay, gingivitis, and other health problems could be detected and treated in the earliest stage for a better prognosis.

Article written by,

Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
Dental Surgeon

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