Even if you brush your teeth thoroughly, some areas your toothbrush cannot reach. Fortunately, dentists have developed a method to complete the cleaning called a dental scale and polish. A dental hygienist will perform this procedure, and you should schedule an appointment with your hygienist every three to six months.

What exactly are scale and polish?

The scale and polish are intended to provide a thorough cleaning of your teeth that is far more effective than brushing alone. Your teeth will not only look cleaner, but your entire mouth will also feel cleaner. To remove the toughest tartar, your dental hygienist will use an electric scaler. This vibrates at a high rate to break up the hard substance on your teeth, gumline, and between your teeth in those challenging-to-reach places. Any debris from this stage of the cleaning process will be washed away by a jet of water. To reach different parts of your mouth, your dental hygienist may use a variety of instruments.

The polish stage will use a rotating brush and toothpaste to restore your teeth to their natural sheen. Your dental hygienist may also use a device such as the Airflow teeth cleaning machine. This produces a stream of water, air, and sodium bicarbonate that is highly effective at cleaning and polishing your teeth.

Why are a scale and polish required?

A sticky film of plaque forms on your teeth throughout the day. This sticky substance contains bacteria and reacts with the sugar in our food to form an acid. Plaque can be removed by brushing your teeth twice daily, but the issues are in the difficult-to-reach areas. Plaque hardens into calculus or tartar as it accumulates over time. Because this is a harder substance, brushing alone is ineffective, which is where the scale and polish procedure comes in.

Are the scale and polish procedures painful?

No, the scale and polish procedure should not be painful, but you may experience strange sensations in your mouth. This could include a scraping or tickling sensation in your gums. A numbing gel can be used if you are nervous about dental pain. If you are concerned about the pain of the scale and polish, tell the receptionist when you book your appointment, and they will notify your dental hygienist.

How frequently should I have the scale and polish done?

To prevent plaque buildup on your teeth, we recommend a scale and polish treatment every six months. Some people will need the treatment less frequently, so as long as you see your dentist every six months, they can tell you if you need a scale and polish. Some people prefer a scale and polish after orthodontic treatment, while others prefer a scale and polish to prepare their teeth and gums for a dental implant procedure.