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    cleaning scaling and polishing

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Cleaning, Scaling and Polishing

Cleaning, Scaling and Polishing

Plaque is a thin bacterial film which is known to adhere to teeth, tongue and gums. Various bacteria may be present in plaque and it is essential to mechanically remove the layer of plaque since infective bacteria present in the plaque can cause gingivitis (inflamed gums), tooth decay and their sequel. This is the reason why you are advised to brush your teeth twice every day.

Cleaning, Scaling and Polishing

Tartar or calculus is the un-removed hardened or solidified plaque which has become a visible mass. This is yellowish, brown or black in color and can be present along the gums and on the surface of the teeth (supragingival calculus). It may also get deposited below gums (on roots of teeth) as subgingival calculus.  A dentist is required to intervene at this stage as only professional scaling or cleaning can remove this. Tartar control toothpastes can also be used by people who are prone to developing tartar.

Cleaning, Scaling and Polishing

Professional cleaning of teeth is known as oral prophylaxis or scaling. Scaling and cleaning are two words with similar meanings. Scaling is usually a term used by qualified dentist whereas cleaning is what the common person would say. This is a very simple process of completely removing plaque and tartar deposited on the borders of our gums attached to the tooth surface.
Objectives of Scaling
  • The most important objective is to restore the health of gums by completely removing plaque and tartar
  • Scaling removes such elements that cannot be removed by regular brushing
  • Scaling also helps keep teeth disease free and prevents bad odor breath

Scaling is needed when any of the following conditions exists:

  • Scaling is needed when there is plaque and tartar deposition on the inner surface of lower front teeth
  • Scaling is needed if there is bleeding from gums during brushing, eating and especially when we wake up early in the morning
  • If there is swelling, irritation and pain in gums, then scaling is needed
  • Scaling is also needed if there is stickiness in teeth
  • Scaling is needed if there is bad odor from mouth
  • If there are stains on teeth and loosening of teeth from gums then scaling should be done

The steps involved in Scaling
In regular dental practice, depending on the severity of tartar, scaling is done in two ways:

  • Hand Scaling  ( By hand instruments)
  • Mechanical Scaling ( Ultrasonic Machine)

Now a days, very few doctors follow hand scaling as it is very time consuming, less effective, outdated and requires more effort.

On the contrary, Ultrasonic scaling is associated with light touch and light pressure on the tooth surface with a constant motion. The vibration energy produced by the ultrasonic machine along with continuous water flow helps remove plaque, tartar, stains and other deposits. This method is very quick, easy and more effective. Ultrasonic scaling is a very effective and safe method as there are fewer traumas to tissues and less discomfort after its completion.

Side effects of this type of Ultrasonic scaling

  • It cannot be used in heart patients
  • It cannot be used in patients suffering from lung diseases and ear, nose and throat infections
  • It cannot be used in patients suffering from diseases which are transferable even by touch, inhalation, exhalation and aerosols
  • It cannot be used in patients having few artificial teeth as it may lead to the roughness of tooth surface, loosening and sometimes total loss


Once the scaling or cleaning sittings of the teeth are done and over, polishing is a must to smoothen the tooth surfaces.

Why is it compulsory?

  • Polishing is mandatory to prevent future deposition of plaque
  • Polishing makes your teeth look amazingly shining and healthy

Methods of polishing

Polishing is usually done by using a hand-piece attached to a small machine called micromotor with a soft rounded cup (called as polishing cup) attached to its head. The polishing material is like a hard substance having soothing smell, replenishing taste and light grayish color. The paste is applied with cotton on tooth surface and the cup smoothly polishes it via vibration energy.

Problems associated with polishing

  • There can be damage to teeth as hard polish material reduces enamel layer
  • Damage to cosmetic fillings and artificial teeth is also possible at this time
  • Improper handling of material and machine by untrained personnel can cause trauma to gums, discomfort and other complications

Conclusion and important key message to follow in daily routine

  • Gum problems can be prevented by immediately consulting your dentist or doctor if there is bleeding from the gums for past 15-30 days associated with a bad odor
  • Visiting your dentist at least once in six months






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