Scaling and Hygiene
Food and saliva combine to create plaque which accumulates around teeth , particularly in areas that are not ‘self cleansing’, such as between the teeth and in the crevices where the teeth enter the gums . This plaque, if left in place, then starts to calcify and become calculus (‘tartar’). Plaque is a sticky white or cream coloured substance, whereas calculus is hard rock-like, often stained (cigarettes, coffee , wine) material. The plaque is bacteria laden and as such, it ‘infects’ the gums. This will cause an inflammatory reaction in these tissues, the signs of which are gum swelling, redness, pain and bleeding.
We are discovering that gum disease has dangerous implications and associations with a host of serious medical conditions (including those of the heart). So, aside of the fact that infected inflamed gums look awful and smell terrible ( halitosis), there are good medical reasons for maintaining a ‘plaque free’ oral environment.
Hygiene care, maintenance and treatment at its basic level, which is all one should aspire to need consists of a combination of effective and efficient home hygiene techniques and regular professional scaling and cleaning ( no less than every half year) , carried out by a competent and conscientious dentist or hygienist. At the very least, he or she can remove the plaque and tartar from the areas that the patient may find difficult to access ( i.e.deeper under the gum margins). It is the responsibility of the dentist or hygienist to make sure that the patient has been instructed in the proper techniques (ideally using an electric tooth brush an cleaners for ‘between the teeth’ and they do their best to comply, by monitoring the effectiveness of what the patient does on each regular recall appointment .
The clinical scaling appointment involves the professional using an electric ultrasonic vibrating tip to remove the soft plaque and particularly the hard tartar ( which the patient cannot remove). He or she then follows this with a scaling with specially shaped hand instruments and finally the teeth are blasted with a mixture of abrasive powder and water (a bit like them going through a ‘car wash’). By that stage the teeth should be totally plaque and tartar free . It is then up to the patient to keep them that way on an daily basis.
There is no doubt that regular (at least twice yearly) professional maintenance ( and the continuous monitoring and motivation that should be provided to the patient as well as excellent patient home compliance results in healthy , beautiful, fresh smelling teeth and gums and minimalizing long term dental treatment ; not to mention maximising the chance to keep teeth for life.
The procedure should not be painful , but it has to be ‘uncomfortable’, otherwise it is not being done properly. Relaxing gas analgesia helps in reducing any discomfort and is used by very many patients . There are no after effects.
The fee for the procedure depends on how much time is required.