Scaling and polishing

Scaling and polishing

Scaling and polishing are two of the most prevalent dental procedures intended to prevent disease or prophylaxis. Brushing the teeth at least three times a day or after every meal is recommended to prevent teeth damage. However, there are instances where tartar and plaque buildup can still occur.

The mouth and teeth both have bacterial film. As you eat, food is converted into sugar or starch which in turn combines with bacteria. As this cycle continues, the teeth is exposed to a more acidic environment. This can result to staining and even damage to the enamel as well as the roots.

That being said, regular flossing and brushing won’t often suffice. It should be complemented with more thorough dental procedures like dental scaling and polishing.

What is dental scaling?

What is dental scaling?

Dental scaling is done routinely to help patients with excessive plaque buildup and gum disease. While the standard cleaning will cover the surface of the tooth, dental scaling will do so much more.

Scaling is also a type of dental cleaning designed to reach below the gum line so plaque buildup is removed. Dental scaling is also sometimes referred to as deep cleaning. In other words, this type of cleaning goes beyond the conventional cleaning received during regular dental checkups and annual visits.

When is dental scaling needed?

When is dental scaling needed?

Everyone will have some form of plaque buildup at one point or another. Each time you eat, acids, sugars, and tiny particles will stick to the bacterial film and will create a buildup known as plaque.

Bacteria that lives in the plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing, brushing, and regular dental cleaning can help remove the plaque and prevent other serious problems from developing.

If your gum is healthy, tissue will fit tightly around the tooth, keeping the plaque out. However, when you have gum disease, the tissue will loosen. Typically, healthy gums are attached to the tooth at 1 to 3 millimetres below your gumline.

When you have gum disease, deeper pockets will start to develop. The pockets can also get filled with plaque and may lead to other problems like bad breath. If you will have pockets that are 4 millimetres or more, dental scaling is often recommended in order to treat the gum disease and remove the plaque beneath the gumline.

What is dental scaling procedure like?

What is dental scaling procedure like?

Dental scaling will involve the thorough and careful removal of the plaque bacteria from the surface of the teeth, just below the gum line. There are two kinds of scaling instruments used for dental scaling and dentists may use both at the same time.

  • Dental scaling using hand-held instruments. Your dentist can use a curette and dental scaler and manually remove the plaque from the teeth. Since the dentist can’t see the plaque, they will have to rely on touch to determine rough spots and areas where there is tartar buildup.
  • Dental scaling using ultrasonic instruments. Ultrasonic scaling instruments with a vibrating tip are used to clean plaque from the teeth. The ultrasonic instrument chips the tartar off and is washed away by a water spray.

Typically, dental scaling is accompanied by a procedure known as root planing. Root planing works by reaching deeper to address the surface of the teeth’s root. This is done the same way as dental scaling. Root planing will smoothen the root’s surface so gums can properly reattach.

What does dental scaling feel like?

What does dental scaling feel like?

For those who have sensitive gums, dental scaling can be uncomfortable. Prior to the procedure, a local anaesthetic may be administered to numb the gum tissue so the procedure is comfortable.

It is recommended that patients talk with their dental care provider about their desensitising options especially if they are concerned about discomfort or pain during the procedure.

Dental scaling can require several visits and each one will cover a different portion of the mouth. While some dentists will opt to perform the procedure in two halves, others will prefer to divide the mouth into four quadrants.

For those who are nervous about the process, it is recommended that they check with the dentist if the procedure can be done in a single session. While this is not a feasible option in most cases, it may be possible for those who only have minimal gum issues and are willing to go through a rather lengthy procedure.

What can one expect after dental scaling?

What can one expect after dental scaling?

After dental scaling, the mouth can feel sensitive and sore. Some patients will also experience some bleeding or swelling (at least for a few days) following the procedure. The dentist may suggest a desensitising toothpaste to help ease out any pain or discomfort.

A prescription mouthwash may also be prescribed for use after the procedure to help keep the gums clean. It is also vital that proper flossing and brushing is observed after dental scaling to prevent plaque from forming in the same areas again.

After the procedure, another visit to the dentist will be scheduled to measure the depth of the gum pockets, examine the gums, and to check if the mouth is healing properly. If the gum pockets have gotten deeper since the procedure, additional treatment alternatives might be explored to address the issue.

Dental scaling is a common treatment for patients suffering from gum disease. Scheduling dental scaling when needed will not only help effectively ward off plaque, it can also help maintain a cleaner and healthier mouth.

What are some precautions before teeth polishing is performed?

What are some precautions before teeth polishing is performed?

For patients with gum recession and an exposed cementum, the use of a mild polishing paste is often recommended so sensitivity to the tooth surface is avoided. For those with other dental problems like untreated cavities, diseased or receding gums, teeth sensitivity, and exposed roots or dentins, it is recommended that the oral issues are resolved first before the teeth is scaled and polished.

Teeth polishing is also not recommended for people with hypertension, respiratory problems, allergies to abrasive agents, and other conditions that weaken the enamel of the teeth.

While teeth polishing is not a required dental treatment, it can help those who would like to develop exceptional oral care habits and would like to feel confident about the look of their teeth. Before having the procedure done, consider it best to discuss the matter with your dentist first so you can decide if it is the best option for you.

What is teeth polishing?

In most dental practices, one procedure that’s typically carried out as part of oral prophylaxis is teeth polishing. In essence, teeth polishing is the act of smoothening the surface of the teeth to make it lustrous and glossy.

While the term polishing is used to describe professional removal of stains and soft deposits from the surface of the teeth, in reality, it actually includes cleaning. During the procedure, plaque, stains, biofilm, and pellicles are removed.

Although the history of teeth polishing has been mentioned in both Greek and Roman writings, it was Pierre Fauchard, the man known as the Father of Modern Dentistry who first introduced it for removal of teeth stains. Back then, egg shells, ginger, finely grounded coral, and salt were used.

Over the years, the modalities and techniques used for teeth polishing have changed. In the last century, the Founder of Dental Hygiene, Dr. Fones, trained his auxiliaries to perform teeth polishing.

Before the 70s, teeth polishing was considered a vital part of the dental appointment. In the 1990s and 2000s, more evidence supported the adoption of selective polishing. In general however, the idea of full mouth polishing is now used in most dental hygiene practices.

Nowadays, the primary focus of teeth polishing is to provide an aesthetic and highly polished appearance by removing extrinsic stains and bacterial plaque biofilms.

What is teeth polishing like?

When there are layers of plaque buildup on the teeth, they can harden and turn into a hard mineral substance known as tartar. Because bacteria can live beneath tartar and can cause gum and tooth diseases, the tartar is removed through scaling.

After the tartar has been removed, the teeth is polished to make them smooth and shiny and to remove surface stains. Teeth polishing is something considered the finishing touch of a protective dental treatment.

Teeth polishing is a painless procedure. A soft and small rubber cup and polishing is used during the process. For patients who have severe stains, an air polishing system  may be used. It is a mix of pressurised water and air mixed with an abrasive agent.

In some cases, selective polishing is performed. In a similar scenario, only those teeth with remaining stains after scaling is polished. Another alternative that might be considered is therapeutic polishing. The procedure will remove bacteria from the roots of the teeth that are exposed during dental surgery.

Teeth polishing pastes used during the procedure are sometimes called trophy pastes. The term is an abbreviation for prophylaxis. Dentists will choose between medium, fine, and coarse pastes.

While medium and coarse pastes are more seen as more effective in removing stains, they can also roughen and scratch the tooth enamel. Fine pastes on the other hand are considered less damaging and can bring about a more highly polished finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat after dental scaling and polishing?

If you were given fluoride treatment, it is recommended that you wait for at least 30 minutes or more before eating or drinking. This can help ensure the treatment can take full effect and the teeth are able to fully absorb the beneficial compound.

How long will it take for my gums to heal after dental scaling?

In about a week or so following your dental scaling, you will notice lesser gum swelling, redness, and bleeding. Your next appointment will most likely be in six weeks so the dentist can assess if the gums are healthier by measuring the gum pockets.

Can I brush my teeth immediately after a deep cleaning?

It is ideal to wait for a day before flossing and brushing. Use a soft-bristled brush until the soreness has not disappeared. You can also use a toothpaste that’s made for sensitive teeth to ward off tooth sensitivity. In addition, avoid eating or drinking anything that can make your teeth sensitive.

How often should I have dental scaling?

Having dental scaling every six months is considered ideal.

Will a scale and polish whiten my teeth?

Scaling and polishing can remove surface stains and keep the gums healthy. While both procedures cannot make the teeth whiter, it can help make the teeth look cleaner and brighter.

Can the pockets in my gums heal?

In cases where the gum pockets will not heal after scaling and root planing has been performed, surgery might be needed. The surgery is done to minimise bone damage that has formed around the teeth. If there is excessive gum tissue loss, a gum graft or a soft-tissue graft might be recommended.

Is teeth scaling necessary?

If your gums are healthy, the tissue is expected to fit tightly around the teeth and therefore keep plaque out. However, if you have pockets that measure 4 millimetres or more, dental scaling will likely be recommended to remove the plaque that’s beneath the gumline and treat gum disease.

Will dental scaling weaken my teeth?

Teeth scaling is a dental procedure designed to clean and scrape any plaque and tartar deposits that form on the teeth. The idea that dental scaling weakens the teeth is one of the most prevalent myths surrounding teeth scaling and is definitely not true.

Will dental polishing remove teeth enamel?

Polishing using a gritty paste can help remove stains that are on the surface of the teeth and will not damage the enamel. However if this is a concern, you can request to have a finer-grained paste to be used during the procedure.

Will dental scaling and polishing hurt?

No, both procedures will not hurt. However, it is possible that you will feel a few unusual sensations in your mouth. This can include tickling or scraping sensations in the gum. However, if you are nervous about any possible pain, using a numbing gel can be an option for you.