Overview and Definition

Scaling and polishing are two of the most popular prophylactic dental procedures (or prevention of disease).

To prevent tooth decay, everybody should brush their teeth three times a day or after each meal. However, plaque and tartar buildup may still occur in some cases.

This occurs as a result of bacterial film in the mouth and on the teeth. Saliva contains calcium, which the teeth need to stay solid and healthy. Food is turned into starch or sugar when an individual consumes it, which then mixes with bacteria. As the cycle progresses, the teeth are exposed to an increasingly acidic environment, which can result in stains and damage to the enamel and the roots.

However, normal brushing can be supplemented by a more extensive dental cleaning, such as scaling and polishing.

Scaling is a dental procedure that removes calculus deposits and stains from the teeth. It’s similar to scraping peeling paint off a wall.

While scaling is usually done on the teeth, it can also be done on the roots, particularly if periodontal pockets have developed. When bacteria have already infiltrated the gums, this occurs. Root planning is the term for this procedure.

On the other hand, polishing is the process of smoothing the teeth, which is necessary because scaling will leave them feeling rough. During this time, the dentist may apply a small amount of fluoride to the teeth to provide additional protection.

Experts have been debating the importance of polishing for years. Some of them think it can only be done if it is necessary. Otherwise, to prevent further damage, the teeth should not be exposed to too many abrasive tools. Patients are urged to speak with their dentist before undergoing the dental operation to help them consider the benefits and drawbacks.

Who should undergo and what should be expected as a result

People of all ages should consider scaling and polishing to achieve optimal oral health. Once the damage has progressed, a more complicated dental procedure will be required.

Many that are already showing signs of disease should also go ahead with the treatments because they can slow or even stop the disease’s progression for a long time. Gum disease is characterized by bleeding, especially when brushing the teeth.

If you have bad breath, you should consider deep cleaning with scaling and polishing. Bacteria can release certain substances as a result of their metabolic function, resulting in bad breath. Poor breath, also known as halitosis, may be a symptom of gum disease.

The procedure can take one or more thorough cleaning sessions, depending on the severity of the stains and the location of the teeth, to achieve the desired results. If an ultrasonic instrument is used during scaling, there may be some slight discomfort. Because of the prolonged mouth opening, numbness of the teeth and pain in the jaw can occur. The procedure could take up to an hour to complete.

How does the process work?

A local anaesthetic can be applied to the gums and teeth to reduce pain before the operation begins. The dentist then scales the teeth using several instruments.

The dental hygienist normally starts by vibrating the teeth with an ultrasonic device to remove the more noticeable and large deposits. As the process progresses, the instrument releases a cooling mist of water to wash the debris away. To remove the deposits, the patient may be asked to spit once in a while.

After the large deposits have been extracted, the dentist can switch to hand scalers, which come in various sizes. While their use can lengthen the operation, they give the dentist more power to penetrate deeper areas that the ultrasonic instrument cannot. They may also be used to remove smaller deposits, such as those stuck between the teeth.

After scaling, the dentist will polish the teeth with a handpiece with a cup filled with soft rubber. The paste is then applied to the rubber cap, which is normally made of fluoride. The dentist rubs and pushes the handpiece over the teeth, smoothing out the places that have been washed.

After that, the patient may resume normal activities, but he or she may not be permitted to eat or drink for the first 30 minutes to an hour.

Complications and risks that can occur

Both procedures, as well as root planning, are generally considered to be secure. However, there could be some pain, which can be exacerbated if the dentist uses undue force or has rough hands. Gum injury and bleeding can result as a result of this.