Is Scaling Really Necessary?

Updated on January 27, 2010
C.S. asks from Channahon, IL
4 answers

I am hoping some of you have some good dental knowledge. I have been told by Shorewood Family Dental that I need scaling done on my teeth. This is a very expensive and long process totaling 4 visits and having anesthesia each time. I am allergic to lidocaine and getting numb is near impossible for me with the other shots they have. I do not want anything unnecessary done to my teeth and even more of an issue is the getting numb each time. It seems as though they recommend this every two years because my insurance will cover it every two years. Everyone I know that has been to my dentist has been told they need the scaling. When is it really necessary? My gums look fine, feel fine, but when probing my teeth they came up with some 4's and 5's on their charts. Anyone know if I should do it? I am hoping some of you are dentists or hygienists? Thanks for your help . . ..

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answers from Chicago on

when you floss and brush at home you can only clean plaque and bacteria down to 3 mm, have you had the probe measurements done there in the past, what were those numbers, have they changed. If they are increasing the periodontal disease is progressing. The bacteria can attack the bone and have irreversible bone loss. Has there been a change in your bone level over the years (checked by x-rays)

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answers from Chicago on


I just had my second scaling/deep cleaning done today. As I sit here at the computer, I am still numb. I, too, was skeptical of the recommedation for a "deep cleaning". The first dentist recommended it about 8-10 years. He was an experienced dentist but was working for a company that I suspected was looking to churn for business. Soon thereafter we moved and had children. It wasn't a priority. I still went to the general dentist religiously but wasn't the most disclipined flosser. Fast forward till October 2009. My general dentist recommended an evaluation by a periodonist after taking measurement of my gums. After reading further about peridontal disease, I decided that I couldn't ignore the recommendations of 2 different dentists. I do have some family history of tooth loss (although I don't know the exact reason why). I wasn't willing to risk it. Hearing the risk of potential bone/tooth loss was enough to get me on the right path. I am now a fanatical flosser and am very happy I sought out the services of a peridontist. Sure the injections into the cheeks/gums were uncomfortable. The actual cleaning was pretty standard. Overall, it was a tolerable experience. Much like a pap test. I don't like it but something that must be done. Both of my dentists told me that I was at a very good place to reverse any peridontal disease with periodic evals (and deep cleanings as necessary), good home care routine and regular check ups with the general dentist. This put my mind at ease.

I was also concerned about insurance coverage. I was surprised to learn that our particular dental coverage was pretty good. I will have a minimal out of pocket expense.

To the untrained eye, my gums looked fine as well. No inflammation or redness but I did have bleeding when I would floss. Do you teeth look longer? This is a sign of gum recession.

I would at least seek the opinion of a peridontist before making any final decisions. Do you really want to risk losing your teeth? To me it was a no-brainer.

Good luck. Send me a message if I can be of any further help. Another resource is




answers from Boston on

Everyone in our family gets our teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist every six months. I believe that this is standard, in addition to brushing 2x/day and flossing.

Because of this, I would go to a different dentist for a 2nd opinion:

"It seems as though they recommend this every two years because my insurance will cover it every two years. Everyone I know that has been to my dentist has been told they need the scaling."

Sounds a little fishy.

Good luck!



answers from Denver on

Hi CS - if you are uncertain or skeptical of your dentist's assessment, then by all means get a second opinion. My dentist does scaling every 6 months but you are talking about deep scaling to help heal and prevent the spread of periodontal disease. If it were me, I would make an appointment with a periodontist to evaluate your teeth and gums and to make a recommendation for treatment, especially considering your sensitivity to numbing agents.

You could also investigate alternative therapies and discuss with periodontist. I know there is a laser procedure available.

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