Scaling and Polishing Explained
Dental scaling and polishing is formally known as a"root scaling and planning.” Scaling is a well-established dental procedure that’s been around for a while. Dentists use scaling as a treatment to minimize the risk of gum disease.
Polishing is done after the scaling and it is largely a cosmetic dental procedure. However, it can aid in cleaning roots of teeth.
Scaling and polishing procedures are also known as deep cleaning in conventional terms. There are several ways dental cleaning is done, so it’s important to be clear about what your dentist does.
Scaling and polishing is mainly done to eliminate plague and tartar (calculus) off your teeth. Read below for more information:
What is Dental Scaling?
To understand the purpose of dental scaling, it’s important to know what dental plaque and tartar is. Even with regular brushing, mouth bacteria accumulates on our teeth. Oral bacterial thrive by eating food residue on our teeth. Plaque is a thin, sticky film largely composed of this bacteria.
We brush our teeth to get rid of this plaque. While it is naturally formed, plaque can release toxins, produced by bacterial during the digestion process, that damage our gums. That’s why bad oral hygiene leads to gingivitis, or gum disease. Scaling aims to prevent this condition.
Plaque is only dangerous when it accumulated near the gum line. It’s sometimes difficult for tooth brushes to remove plaque hiding near the gums. When plaque is left undisturbed for 24 hours, it hardens and becomes calculus, or tartar. This substance cannot be removed by regular tooth brushing, only scaling can do that.
Scaling is done using a special ultrasonic dental instrument. This instrument uses vibrations to remove plaque and tartar without damaging your teeth or gums. The vibrations are particularly helpful for dislodging hardened tartar.
The scaling instrument gently hums as it vibrated, which you may hear as a loud sound during the process. The scaling is usually done for a few minutes. However, it can take longer if you have more tartar in your mouth.
What is Dental Polishing?
Performed after scaling, dental polishing makes your teeth surfaces cleaner and stain-free. Polishing is done using another dental instrument that resembles a soft rubber cup. The cub spins fast to posh your teeth.
Dentists or hygienists use a prophylaxis paste during the polishing process. The toothpaste-like paste is a mixture of cleaning and enamel polishing material. It’s normal for the paste to contain roughly a percent or so of fluoride. As you may know, fluoride kills bacteria and helps keep enamel healthy.
The polishing instrument essentially use the paste as a cleanser to remove stain and plaque residue form your mouth. Afterwards, your teeth would look shinier and feel cleaner.
Some dental clinics use water or air to polish teeth as well. This method blows air and water into the mouth at a pressure to remove debris. The resulting solution tastes a bit salty, but your mouth would be clean.