Preventive Dentistry: Scaling and Polishing

Prevention of dental problems through appropriate care or using oral care-related procedures is called preventive dentistry. Along with personal care, preventive dentistry is aimed at preventing long-term dental problems. The application of preventive dentistry at an early age enhances dental health for a lifetime; however, the techniques are equally effective in adulthood and minimize the extent of dental problems.

Tooth decay and gum diseases primarily cause teeth loss. The oral cavity is filled with microbial flora. Under normal conditions, the bacteria regulate the oral environment and maintain physiology. However, external factors may disrupt this balance causing gum- and teeth-related problems.

When the proportion of bacteria increases, they form a thin film on the teeth surface. This colourless and sticky film is called plaque, which accumulates on the teeth. Depending on the extent of plaque deposition, the teeth colour varies from yellow to brown. The plaque hardens to form tartar or calculus. Plaque deposition and tartar formation vary among individuals.

Plaque formation fosters bacterial survival, thus exposing teeth to further damage. Plaque build-up usually starts 4–5 hours after brushing teeth. Hence, regular cleaning is essential to avoid the plaque from sticking to your teeth.

Scaling is a technique for tartar removal. This nonsurgical procedure cleanses teeth and removes plaque below the gum line. Scaling can be performed manually using hand-held tools or using ultrasound. Under manual removal, the dentists remove plaque using a scaler and curette. The shape of these tools complements that of the teeth curves and hence allows for easier movement between them. Scaling using ultrasound breaks down large tartar pieces into small removable particles through vibrations. Water sprays flush away the particles simultaneously. The tools are blunt to avoid any scratches or scars and are perfectly safe. Some patients experience a tingling sensation or feel ticklish as the ultrasonic instrument moves across the teeth. In such conditions, inform your dentist immediately to avoid discomfort.

Polishing is done to prevent plaque from accumulating on teeth. This procedure is usually performed after scaling to protect teeth from plaque accumulation. A prophy cup is used for polishing teeth surface. It comprises a rubber cup and a prophy paste that remove plaque and stains, leaving teeth in its natural colour and form.

Sometimes a dentist may choose to include fluoride treatment post scaling and polishing. This treatment is performed to strengthen the weakened teeth because of bacterial acid action. Also, fluoride provides the essential minerals lost to plaque and acids.

Taken together, scaling and polishing is a painless procedure. In extreme cases with poor gums or any other dental condition, a local anaesthetic will be applied which ceases pain and ensures relief. The entire procedure lasts for a couple of hours; however, the duration depends on the extent of removal. In most cases, the treatment is completed in one visit.

Scaling and polishing are part of the preventive dental techniques aimed at protecting teeth from damage. Plaque build-up can be easily prevented through rinsing your mouth after every meal, followed by brushing twice a day and flossing before bed. These simple habits will effectively protect your teeth from plaque formation.

Scaling and polishing can be availed at our clinic to get rid of tedious and difficult-to-clean plaques. You can also resolve your queries from our team for all your dental concerns. We at the Sterling Dental Clinic look forward to serve you.