Scaling vs Cleaning: What’s the Difference and Why Do You Need Both for Healthy Teeth?

teeth scaling vs cleaning

What is a dental cleaning?

Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Following the guidelines set by the American Dental Association, it is recommended to visit your local dental practice at least once every six months.

During a dental exam, your general dentist will thoroughly evaluate the health of your teeth and gums. They will check for any signs of decay, cavities, gum inflammation, or other oral health problems. Early detection of these issues allows for prompt treatment, preventing them from worsening and causing more significant damage.

Professional teeth cleanings are another vital aspect of preventive dental care. Even with diligent brushing and flossing at home, plaque and tartar can accumulate in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. These deposits harbor bacteria, which can lead to dental problems. Dental hygienists use specialized tools to gently remove plaque and tartar buildup, reducing the bacterial population in the mouth.

By attending regular dental exams and cleanings, you not only receive a thorough assessment of your oral health but also benefit from the removal of harmful bacteria. This helps prevent tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and other related complications. It is a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy smile and avoiding costly and invasive dental treatments in the future.

Remember, in addition to regular dental visits, it is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices at home, including brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and following a balanced diet. By combining professional dental care and consistent oral hygiene habits, you can significantly reduce the risk of dental issues and enjoy optimal oral health for years to come.

Based on the extent of plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth, your dentist may perform one of the following four types of dental cleanings:

–         Prophylaxis cleaning

–         Full mouth debridement

–         Periodontal maintenance

–         Scaling and root planning


Dental cleanings play a crucial role in preventing the progression of periodontitis by effectively removing deposits of plaque and bacteria. This procedure cleans the teeth and focuses on the gum tissue to promote its healing and prevent further damage. By addressing the early signs of gum disease, scaling helps to halt its spread and can potentially save patients from more extensive treatments.

If left untreated, periodontitis can worsen, leading to severe consequences such as tooth and bone loss. Without proper intervention, the condition can become necessary for reconstructive dental procedures. These procedures are often complex, costly, and may involve significant discomfort for the patient.

To avoid reaching this stage, it is vital to seek timely treatment and follow your dentist’s recommendations. Regular dental check-ups, including scaling when recommended, can help maintain the health of your gums and prevent the advancement of periodontal disease. Remember, early intervention is key to preserving your oral health and avoiding more invasive and extensive dental procedures in the future.

What is scaling?

Scaling is a type of dental cleaning commonly performed to remove plaque and tartar buildup from the surfaces of teeth, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth, and if left untreated, it can lead to gum disease and other oral health issues. By undergoing scaling, you can effectively eliminate this plaque and prevent the development of more complications.

How is it done?

There are two main methods of scaling: manual scaling and ultrasonic scaling. During manual scaling, your dentist or dental hygienist uses handheld instruments called scalers to gently scrape away plaque and tartar. Ultrasonic scaling, on the other hand, utilises a specialised device that emits vibrations and water to break up and remove the buildup.

Why do you need scaling?

Scaling is often incorporated as part of routine dental checkups to maintain optimal oral hygiene. However, in cases where there is a significant accumulation of plaque and tartar, deep cleaning may be necessary. This involves an additional procedure called root planning, which focuses on cleaning below the gum line to address gum disease and promote healing. Deep cleaning is typically performed over multiple appointments to ensure thoroughness and effectiveness.

By undergoing scaling and root planning, you can prevent the progression of gum disease, reduce the risk of tooth decay, and improve overall oral health. It is important to consult with your dentist to determine the appropriate frequency of scaling based on your individual needs. Regular dental cleanings, including scaling, are vital for maintaining a healthy smile and preventing dental issues in the long run.

How often should you get scaling?

The frequency of scaling procedures can vary depending on an individual’s oral hygiene condition. In general, it is recommended to undergo scaling every six months (twice a year) to effectively address issues like bad breath. However, for individuals who are more prone to plaque buildup or experience frequent gum bleeding, a more frequent scaling schedule of every two to four months may be advised.

Regular attendance to scaling and polishing sessions as prescribed by your dentist is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health. These sessions not only help remove stubborn plaque and tartar but also contribute to preventing gum disease and maintaining fresh breath. By adhering to the recommended scaling frequency, you can significantly reduce the risk of dental issues and maintain a healthy smile.

It’s important to consult with your dentist to determine the ideal scaling schedule based on your specific oral health needs. They will assess your condition, evaluate plaque buildup, and provide personalised recommendations to ensure that your scaling and polishing sessions are effective in promoting long-term oral health. Remember, consistent oral hygiene practices, including regular scaling, play a vital role in preserving your oral well-being.

Overall, deep cleaning or scaling and root planing is a vital procedure for individuals with gum disease, as it can help improve oral health, prevent further damage to the gums and supporting structures, and contribute to a healthier smile.


Unit 74/20
Bindubi Street,
Macquarie. ACT 2614

02 6162 0004


Book your Appointment Online