What is Scaling & Polishing

We learn from young that clean teeth equals great smiles and happy faces. Routine brushing at home can only go so far to maintain our pearlie whites. We do need the professionals from time to time. Scaling & Polishing by a dental surgeon removes tartar that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult to reach with routine brushing of teeth. We recommend having your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year or every 6 months.

What to expect during Polishing

Cleaning and Polishing Teeth

When layers of plaque build-up on teeth, they harden and form a tough mineral substance called tartar. Bacteria can live beneath tartar and cause dental diseases and dental hygienists remove tartar in a procedure called scaling. After scraping off the hard tartar with special instruments, the hygienist then polishes the teeth. Dental polishing removes surface stains on teeth and leaves them shiny and smooth, putting the finishing touches on a protective dental treatment.

Tooth Polishing Procedures

Tooth polishing is a painless dental procedure, and some patients enjoy it. The dental hygienist uses either a small, soft rubber cup and polishing paste. If a patient has a severe stain, an air polishing system which is a jet of pressurized air and water mixed with an abrasive agent to polish the teeth can be used. An article in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology (JISP) reports that some dental hygienists provide selective polishing, which means they only polish teeth that remain stained after scaling. Another option is therapeutic polishing, which helps remove bacteria from tooth roots that are exposed during dental surgery.

Polishing Pastes for Teeth

Tooth polishing pastes are called prophy pastes, an abbreviation of prophylaxis that refers to the protective, disease-preventing effects of tooth cleaning and polishing. Dental hygienists choose between fine, medium and coarse pastes to fill the rubber cup that delivers the paste to the tooth surface. Coarse and medium pastes are most effective at removing stains quickly, according to the AAOSH, but they can also scratch and roughen the tooth enamel, thus making it more likely to develop stains later. Fine pastes are less damaging and create a more highly polished finish, but sometimes can be less effective at removing stains. JISP states that the abrasive agents most often used in prophy are calcium carbonate and pumice flour.

Air Polishing for Teeth

A review of several studies, published by the Journal of Dental Hygiene, shows that polishing with a jet of air, water and an abrasive agent removes stains more effectively and quickly than polishing with a rubber cup and prophy. What’s more, air polishing is generally less harsh on tooth enamel. Sodium bicarbonate is often used as the abrasive agent in air polishing, but glycine (a naturally-occurring amino acid) is less abrasive and just as effective.

Tooth Polishing Precautions

If there is gum recession and there is exposure of the cementum, use of a mild polishing paste may be recommended so that there is no sensitivity to the tooth surface that can occur. If patients have problems like teeth sensitivity, untreated cavities, exposed dentin or roots, and diseased or receding gums, these oral issues should be treated before the teeth are scaled and polished. Finally, patients who should not have their teeth polished include people who have respiratory problems, hypertension, conditions that weaken tooth enamel or allergies to the abrasive agents, according to the Journal of Dental Hygiene. Although tooth polishing isn’t an essential dental treatment, it can help patients feel confident about the look of their teeth and encourage good oral care habits. If your teeth have surface stains, speak to your dentist about whether polishing would help improve their appearance.

What to expect during Scaling

Dental scaling occurs with manual hand instruments, ultrasonic instruments or both. The dentist will start the procedure with a thorough examination of your mouth. Next, an ultrasonic scaling device will be used to eliminate the plaque bacteria with sonic vibrations. The ultrasonic scaling device removes tartar (calculus), plaque and biofilm from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line. A manual instrument may be used next to remove the remainder.

Head doctors

  • Dr. Ryan Yun

    Dr. Ryan Yun

    10 years experience
    From Korea, Graduated from Australia.

+65 6227 7708