Decoding a scale & polish

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Many people of heard of a scale & polish and know roughly what it is, but do you know exactly what happens and why it is so important? Our latest article will provide you with all the knowledge you need to ensure you make this practice an important part of your regular dental cycle.

It will be easiest to break this article down into two – what is it and why it is important.

What it is

A scale and polish is a simple yet comprehensive cleaning procedure carried out by a dentist or dental hygienist. The treatment normally has two steps associated with it. Firstly a scraping action is undertaken to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar around the teeth. This is known as the scale. This is normally done by using an electric piece of equipment which oscillates at high speed. The instrument has a sharp tip and often emits a jet of water – both perfect for removing plaque and calculus (the latter a more difficult form of plaque to remove.) Sometimes these stains can be stubborn so may require some extra work and treatment. In these cases, the dentist also has manual instruments at their disposal which allow them to access harder to reach areas. Like keys that only fit certain locks, some of these instruments will just ‘do the job’ for specific parts or areas of the mouth.


Once the dentist is happy that your mouth has been descaled to the best possible standard you will next experience the polish. This is essentially a clean of your teeth but it is done in a very professional way. Your dentist or hygienist will use a rotating pad (which acts like a toothbrush) and some high quality toothpaste will be applied. All of your mouth will then be cleaned, including those hard to reach areas which are normally difficult to do when we are cleaning our teeth by ourselves. This special polishing technique further protects the teeth by giving the mouth a comprehensive clean. You will probably find that if you look in the mirror after, your teeth won’t look much different from normal. However they should feel much cleaner and knowing that this has been done should be a satisfying experience.


Lastly your dentist should ask if you need any advice or to discuss anything that is bothering you. Take this time to discuss dental health tips as you can ensure your results are continued. Scale and polishes do not hurt, although some people find them very mildly uncomfortable at times.


Why is it important?

We now need to assess why a scale and polish is so important. We know that most people should visit a dentist twice a year, and as part of this is to have a scale and polish treatment.

Scale and polishes are more than just cleaning the teeth. This treatment is a big preventive measure in reducing gum disease. Simply if you don’t visit the dentist you miss out on this and your risk of experiencing gum problems increases.

Regular scale and polishes remove plaque and bacteria as already described. The mere presence of these substances for prolonged periods and in sufficient quantities can lead to gum irritation, which left untreated can lead to gum disease and complications.


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