Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque and calculus (also known as tartar) will build up on your teeth. A scale and polish is a professional clean carried out by a dentist or hygienist to remove this plaque and calculus.
We use special instruments to clean the gum line around the front and back of your teeth and polish all tooth surfaces. We start with an ultrasonic instrument that vibrates large bits of calculus loose and washes them away, then use finer tools called scalers and curettes to gently scrape off smaller bits. Once the surfaces are clean, we use a soft electric polishing cup with a gritty paste called prophylaxis to polish the teeth smooth. Finally, we may apply a fluoride paste to help strengthen your teeth.
The whole process only takes a few minutes and generally doesn’t cause much discomfort – just some tickling and scraping sensations.
Why you should get your teeth scaled and polished regularly
So a scale and polish removes plaque and calculus – but why is that important to do?
Well, plaque is a soft, creamy white substance full of bacteria. Calculus is a hard build-up of calcium. Its rough surface is perfect for plaque to stick to. Plaque and calculus are usually tooth-coloured and may not affect the appearance of your teeth. However, the bacteria that build up in plaque release toxins and acid that can cause tooth decay, cavities, bad breath, gingivitis or gum disease. Of course, these conditions can be very painful to experience and costly to deal with. Yikes!
You can remove a lot of plaque with your twice-daily brushing and flossing, but it’s likely that you’ll miss a few hard-to-reach spots. And calculus can’t be removed just by brushing. A scale and polish will get the plaque out of those difficult crevices, and remove calculus from the surfaces of your teeth, preventing those nasty bacteria from building up and causing problems.
It can also help remove aesthetically displeasing stains – and of course, it will leave you with a great fresh feeling in your mouth.
A scale and polish should be a regular procedure for everyone, from childhood through adulthood. Just like regularly getting your car serviced by a mechanic will help it remain in great condition and prevent major issues later on, getting a scale and polish frequently will help keep your mouth healthy and your teeth shiny.