Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 8: Scaling Teeth

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HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 8: Scaling Teeth


Scaling means ‘scraping away.’ You can scale old food, tartar, or even a fish bone caught under the gum. You usually scale teeth to remove tartar.

scraping tartar with a scaler.
We get tartar when the coating of germs on our teeth becomes hard.

Gums that press against tartar become sore and infected.

Clean teeth keep our gums healthy. Scaling a person’s teeth gives infected gums a chance to become normal again.

However, gums remain healthy only when we keep the teeth beside them clean. If we are not careful about cleaning our teeth after they are scaled, tartar will soon return. Instead of being healthy, the gums will become sore and infected again.

Scale a person's teeth, but also teach how to keep teeth clean.


You must remove something caught under the gums before it causes more pain and swelling. Remove a piece of fish bone or piece of mango string now.

If the person has a mild gum problem (gums that bleed), wait a week or so before scaling. If the person uses this time to clean his teeth better and to rinse with warm salt water, the gums will improve. The person’s teeth will be easier for you to scale, and he will learn that he can do much by himself to care for the gums.

Use a mirror to show the person gum infection inside his own mouth. Later he can see the improvement he has made. He can learn about how to keep gums healthy as he follows his own progress.

Scale a person’s teeth only when he really wants to try to keep them clean. If he does not want to clean his teeth, the tartar will soon return. Do not waste your time scaling the teeth of a person who does not want to learn.



This page was updated:19 Feb 2018