What is scaling and polishing?
A scale and polish is a very common dental treatment which is carried out as a form of oral preventative medicine with the aim of keeping your teeth clean and healthy.
This procedure is also known as ‘dental cleaning’ and along with tooth brushing, flossing, mouthwashes and healthy eating can help to reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Why do we need scaling and polishing?
The plaque (bacterial film from the remaining food) forms on the surface of and between our teeth and can affect the teeth and the gum. If is not removed then it will harden and form calculus or ‘tartar’ – a yellow or brown mineral deposit which causes the teeth to have a rough or ‘crusty’ appearance. This makes them vulnerable to further plaque attacks. The danger with this is that it can lead to the more serious periodontal gum disease and loosening of teeth, also tooth decay as well as bad breath.
A scale and polish can remove plaque and leave your teeth feeling nice and smooth. This will also prevent bacteria sticking to them which can lead to the build up of tartar. And, it will help to prevent gum disease.
How scaling and polishing are done?
The ‘scale’ part of the procedure involves the dentist using an ultrasonic device which emits vibrations to loosen large areas of tartar. It will spray a cooling mist at the same time which washes away the debris. This tends to be relatively painless except in cases with severe gum inflamation. Some patients experience sensitivity but in general the procedure does not need local anesthetic.
Once your teeth are beautifully smooth the dentist will then give them a polish. A special paste is used for polishing. This will give your teeth a shiny appearance.
As a final flourish the dentist may apply fluoride. Fluoride is good at strengthening the teeth as well as providing essential minerals to any teeth that have been eroded by acid.