Being told that a scale and polish would be a good idea is a common experience for people attending a dental appointment, but what exactly is it?
Although it’s widely believed that a scale and clean or polish results in cleaner teeth, without more information it’s hard to see why a suitable level of cleanliness can’t be achieved through regular brushing and flossing.
As it turns out, periodic scale and clean procedures are essential in order to minimise the risk of tooth decay and ensure your smile looks good.
Given below is a full explanation of why you may need a scale and polish, as well as a list of benefits which keeping on top of your dental hygiene through regular de-scaling can bring.
What Does Scaling and Cleaning Do?
The main aim of a scale and clean is to remove hardened plaque. Plaque is formed continuously in the mouth as a result of common bacteria feeding on food detritus and other nutrients, including proteins that come from saliva.
The mixture of bacteria and decomposing food (the bacteria act on the food to break it down into a form it can use for nutrition – decomposition) is initially a soft, white compound that can be cleared from the teeth with a good brushing technique and flossing.
Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to remove all of the plaque through brushing alone. Because the process of plaque production is on-going, fresh plaque is always being created.
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Why is a Scale and Clean needed?
Any plaque which isn’t removed through brushing stays on the teeth. As time goes on, the plaque remaining on the teeth begins to solidify, eventually forming solid plaque (tartar or calculus).
This hard substance coats the teeth, forming an ugly brown stain that can’t be removed with regular brushing. Because calculus has an uneven surface, it’s easy for newer plaque to be caught in the small depressions and pits on the calculus’ surface, compounding the problem.
A scale and polish treatment involves gently removing the tartar build up, getting rid of the hardened plaque which is stuck on to your teeth.
What Happens During a Scale and Clean?
During a scale and clean, the dentist or dental hygienist uses special instruments to gently remove the calculus or tartar build-up.
The most common of these is an ultrasonic tool, that uses a rapid, circular motion to carefully remove the hardened plaque at the same time as releasing a small mist of water to wash away the detritus that’s removed and ensure that the area stays at a reasonable temperature.
Many people describe the sensation of the ultrasonic treatment as “tickling”. It’s not normally considered to be painful or uncomfortable; if you find the procedure unpleasant, tell your dentist as soon as you can – don’t suffer in silence!
The dentist may also use small hand tools to remove little deposits and to smooth the teeth, leaving you with a beautiful, clean result.
The Benefits of a Scale and Clean
The scale and clean not only removes hardened plaque, making your teeth look (and feel) better, it also reduces the risk of dental decay or gum irritation.
The higher the level of plaque in the mouth, the more likely it is to cause damage. This may result not only in the need for further dental intervention (for example more fillings or even an extraction), it can also result in inflamed, tender gums.
Gum disease (gingivitis) can cause a range of problems, including loose teeth, pus between the teeth and even heart and circulatory problems (studies suggest that bacteria from the gums get into the blood stream and circulates around the body).
Removing hardened plaque reduces the risk of further plaque build-up, enhancing oral hygiene. This is important to preserve mouth health, minimising the risk of more invasive procedures being required in the future.
Another advantage of a scale and clean is that by removing tartar, the original surface of the teeth is exposed.
Although plaque will inevitably form on the freshly cleaned surface, it can mainly be removed using a brush and dental floss.
A scale and clean doesn’t just remove brown, unpleasant looking plaque, it can also remove stains caused by nicotine, red wine and foods with a strong colour.
Enjoy Fresher Breath with a Scale and Clean
The bacteria which create oral plaque don’t just have the potential to cause tooth decay and gum disease, they can also release odour that can make your breath smell absolutely awful!
Even if you use a mouthwash, mints or other breath freshener aids, there’s still a strong possibility that your breath will still smell unpleasant if your dental hygiene isn’t as good as it can be.
A regular scale and clean, alongside regular brushing, can make a significant impact on the sweetness of your breath.
Being nice to be near to is of major importance to most people, so it’s always worth getting into the habit of scheduling a regular scale and polish in order to remove any plaque which might make your breath smell less-than-ideal.
How Often Should I Have a Scale and Clean Completed?
Many people are eager to build up a regular schedule of scale and polish treatments, but aren’t sure how often they’re required. In these circumstances, the best thing to do is to ask your dentist.
The rate of plaque build-up varies from person to person. Some people will need a scale and polish as often as every three months; others will need a scale and polish every year or so, or even less.
Your dentist is best placed to advise on what frequency of scale and polish is going to be best for your individual hygiene routine.
Not only can a well executed scale and clean result in a healthier mouth, it can also significantly improve the appearance of your teeth. Nobody feels their most confident with brown, stained teeth.
Why not improve your smile’s whiteness and brightness with a simple, effective scale and clean treatment?