What is scaling and polishing?

Dental scaling and polishing is the process of removing plaque and tartar buildup around the teeth and the polishing of the smooth surfaces of the teeth. When visiting the dentist for routine cleaning (prophylaxis), this technique is carried out.

Everyone should brush their teeth at least twice a day and ideally rinse with mouthwash after meals to keep their teeth healthy. However, plaque and tartar still have a chance to develop in some situations.

Tartar and plaque
Tartar and plaque

This occurs as a result of a bacterial film in the mouth and on the teeth. Calcium is a mineral found in saliva that teeth require to stay strong and healthy. As soon as you consume food, the food will turn into starch or sugar, which combines with bacteria and increases the acid concentration in your mouth. This environment can discolor the enamel and probably destroy the roots.

Therefore, brushing your teeth and having deeper dental cleaning such as scaling and polishing is the best protection against plaque and tartar.

While scaling is a surface tooth treatment, sometimes it can be done on the roots, especially when periodontal pockets have already developed. This occurs when the germs have already extended to the gums. This procedure is called root planing.

On the other hand, polishing smooths the teeth, which can leave them feeling rough. During the procedure, the dentist may apply a small amount of fluoride as a protective barrier.

For the past few years, experts have discussed the importance of polishing. Some of them believe that it just should be done when it is extremely necessary. Moreover, the teeth should not be served with too much abrasive equipment to prevent damage. As a result, before you undergo scaling and polishing, the dentist will explain all of the benefits and drawbacks. 

Who is a candidate?

People of all ages should think about undergoing scaling and polishing to gain optimum oral health. A more involved dental operation may be necessary after the damage begins. 

Patients who already have symptoms of dental disease are still under treatment since the procedure can prevent the development of the disease’s course. Bleeding gum when brushing the teeth is one of the most common symptoms.

If you have bad oral breath, you can consider deep cleaning with scaling and polishing. If you have terrible breath, you could consider extensive cleaning with scaling and polishing. As a result of their metabolic activity, bacteria may emit certain chemicals that contribute to foul breath. Halitosis, or poor breath, can occasionally be an indication of gum disease.

Depending on the severity of the stains and the location of the teeth, the procedure may need one or more thorough cleaning sessions before the desired results may be reached. It could hurt a little bit to scale with an ultrasonic instrument. The teeth may go numb and the jaw may hurt as a result of the prolonged opening of the mouth. The entire procedure may take at least an hour to complete.

Scaling and polishing procedure

Scaling
Scaling

To ease the pain, dentists will start with local anesthetic to the gums and teeth. The dentist then uses a variety of equipment to do scaling. 

The dental hygienist often starts by vibrating the teeth with an ultrasonic equipment to remove the larger, more obvious deposits. As the treatment continues, the equipment emits a cooling water mist to wipe the debris away. To remove the deposits, the patient can occasionally be instructed to spit. 

The dentist may switch to hand scalers, which come in various sizes, after removing the large deposits. Even when utilizing them could make the process last longer, they provide the dentist greater control since they can reach deeper areas that the ultrasonic device cannot. Additionally, they can be used to remove smaller deposits, particularly those stuck in between teeth.

Polishing
Polishing

The patient may not be allowed to eat or drink anything for the first 30 to 60 minutes or so, but after that, they are free to continue their normal activities.

A fluoride treatment procedure

Professional fluoride treatments are given by dentists in the form of a foam, gel, varnish, or rinse. A brush, tray, swab, or mouthwash can all be used to do the therapy. Using a handpiece with a cup filled with dental rubber, the dentist can continue polishing once scaling is finished. After that, the paste—which is often made of fluoride – is applied to the rubber cup. The dentist rubs and moves the handpiece on the teeth, smoothing the newly cleaned areas.

Fluoride in these treatments is substantially higher than in your water or toothpaste. Applying them just takes a few minutes. After the treatment, The patient may not be allowed to eat or drink anything for the first 30 to 60 minutes or so, but after that, they are free to continue their normal activities.

How much does a fluoride treatment cost?

Insurance usually covers fluoride treatments at the dentist for children. Adults, however, may pay 230.000 VND to 690.000 VND out of pocket, or more. At our clinic, you are free to choose your instalment plan through credit cards from various banks such as Vietcombank, Sacombank, VPBank, HSBC,… The instalment process is quick and very simple.

How much fluoride do you need?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a professional fluoride treatment at your dentist’s office every 3, 6, or 12 months, depending on your oral health. If you’re at high risk for cavities, your dentist may also prescribe a special fluoride rinse or gel to use regularly at home.

The following can increase your risk of cavities:

  • excessive drug or alcohol use.
  • eating disorder.
  • poor oral hygiene.
  • lack of professional dental care.
  • poor diet.
  • dry mouth, or decreased saliva.
  • weak enamel.

Common sources of dietary fluoride include:

  • tea.
  • water.
  • food cooked in water.
  • fish eaten with their bones.
  • infant formula.

Optimal fluoride intake comes from food, water, and supplements. The following recommended daily amounts of fluoride:

  • Birth to 3 years of age: 0.1 to 1.5 milligrams (mg).
  • 4 to 6 years of age: 1 to 2.5 mg.
  • 7 to 10 years of age: 1.5 to 2.5 mg.
  • Adolescents and adults: 1.5 to 4 mg. 

Fluoride for children

If your child is under 3 years old, they should only brush their teeth with close supervision. Apply only a thin layer of fluoride toothpaste to their toothbrush. The toothpaste should cover less than half of the bristles or be no bigger than a grain of rice.

Fluoride toothpaste the size of a pea is recommended for children ages 3 to 6 years old. You should watch children to ensure they spit toothpaste out while brushing.

What are the advantages of fluoride?

When germs have damaged the enamel of tooth surfaces, fluoride restores minerals. Additionally, it can inhibit the development of harmful oral bacteria and help prevent cavities in the future.

“Fluoride cannot remove decay but, while creating a stronger outer surface to your teeth, it can help stop the decay from penetrating into the deeper parts of teeth,” says Chicago dentist Dr. Niketa V. Shah.

Fluoride benefits both children and adults. The earlier children are exposed to fluoride, the less likely they are to develop cavities. According to a large study, children and adults who had fluoride treatments for a year had a 43% lower risk of developing cavities and tooth decay.

Before fluoride was included in toothpaste, research showed that persons who drank water that had been fluoridated had a 40–60% lower chance of developing cavities. The American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that drinking water include trace quantities of fluoride.

Are there side effects to fluoride?

Like any medication, getting too much fluoride can lead to unexpected side effects. Fluoride overdoses can occur from overdosing unintentionally or from being given an excessive amount by a doctor. Even while long-term fluoride overexposure can harm young children’s developing bones and teeth, fluoride poisoning is now very rare. Many children’s toothpastes do not have any fluoride.

Too much fluoride can cause:

  • white specks on mature teeth.
  • staining and pitting on teeth.
  • problems with bone homeostasis.
  • very dense bones that aren’t very strong.

Acute poisoning can result from taking too many fluoride supplements:

  • nausea.
  • diarhea.
  • tiredness.
  • excessive sweating.

It could even result in death. Fluoride supplements must always be kept out of children’s reach.

Do you need to use toothpaste?

The best technique to eliminate plaque from your teeth and gums is to brush your teeth at least twice a day and ideally rinse after meals. To get to tooth surfaces that a toothbrush can’t reach, use floss or an interdental tooth cleaning.

Friction and movement are crucial while brushing your teeth. Even while you may brush your teeth with just water, using toothpaste that also includes fluoride and other cleaning agents can significantly boost the benefits of brushing.

Fluoride is naturally found in most water sources but adding trace amounts of fluoride to tap water is especially beneficial for people without regular visits to a dentist.

There are two methods to consume fluoride:

  • topically from toothpaste and treatments at the dentist.
  • systemically through water and nutritional supplements.

The takeaway

Cavities are avoided by the natural mineral fluoride. It replenishes minerals in tooth enamel and stops the growth of dangerous oral germs. An excessive amount of fluoride may have negative side effects.

Overall health and other physiological processes are significantly impacted by oral health. In order to look after your mouth:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day in two minutes.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Avoid sugary snacks and beverages.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Visit a dentist at least once a year.

Q&A

How frequent should I have my teeth scaling and polishing done?

This really varies depending on the oral health and dental routine. The most common answer will be once every 4-6 months, but this may not always be true. Several elements, such as the following, may call for more frequent expert cleaning:

  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes.
  • Tea/Coffee/Wine staining.
  • History of gum disease or decay.
  • Bad breath.

Remember that your dentist can only help you if you arrive for your appointment. Early diagnosis and preventative care are the best ways to protect your teeth.

Do I have to get scaling and polishing done if I have been brushing and cleaning them well?

Of course. Even dentists are required to have regular scaling and polishing performed.

Plaque can just build up in too many difficult-to-reach nooks before we can eliminate it with brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing will not be able to remove plaque once it has hardened into tartar, and scaling will be recommended.

However, diligent brushing and cleaning practices will enable us to finish the scale and polishing procedure more quickly.

Is scaling and polishing bad for my teeth?

Because they think that scraping the teeth is harmful or because they had sensitive teeth or receding gums after treatment, many individuals in the past avoided scaling and polishing. But these are just prevalent myths. There is no need to be concerned when you are in the hands of expertised dentists who are competent to complete this task without harming your teeth.

Is scaling and polishing of teeth painful?

The scale and polish technique shouldn’t hurt, but you can experience some strange oral sensations. Your gums may experience a scraping or a tickling sensation as a result. If you are really anxious about any tooth discomfort, a numbing gel might be used.

Scaling procedure
Scaling procedure

Is polishing necessary after scaling teeth?

Polishing teeth after scaling can assist to remove stains and germs from tooth roots that the standard scaling process could not reach and remove, while it is not absolutely necessary. Because tartar buildup is impossible to avoid with only regular brushing, everyone should undergo the polishing process.

What not to do after scaling and polishing teeth?

  • While your mouth is still numb, avoid eating anything.
  • On the first day, don’t eat tough, crunchy, grainy, or challenging foods.
  • In 48 hours, avoid drinking hot beverages.
  • In 48 hours, avoid mouthwash.

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