Scale and Polish Dental Services | Atria-City Dental Group

Scale and Polish

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Scale and Polish

Even with the best oral hygiene habits, there are areas in the mouth which can be difficult to keep 100% clean by yourself. Through a professional scale and polish (dental prophylaxis) treatment, any buildup of dental plaque and tartar can be removed to prevent the development of decay and gum disease. 

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth and can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Tartar is a hardened form of plaque that cannot be removed by brushing alone. A scale and polish treatment helps remove both plaque and tartar from the teeth.

What Are The Benefits Of A Regular Scale and Polish Treatment?

  • Prevents gum disease: Removing plaque and tartar helps prevent gum disease and its associated complications, such as bleeding gums, a receding gum line, and tooth loss.
  • Freshens breath: Scaling and polishing helps remove the plaque and tartar which contribute to bad breath, leaving the mouth feeling clean and fresh.
  • Helps identify dental problems: During a scale and polish, the dentist can identify dental problems that may be present on the cleaned tooth surfaces, such as cavities, cracked teeth, or gum disease. Early identification of these problems allows for prompt treatment and can help prevent more serious complications from developing.
  • Improves appearance: Scaling and polishing can help remove surface stains from teeth, leaving them looking brighter and whiter.

What does a Scale and Polish Treatment Involve?

A scale and polish treatment typically involves removing plaque, tartar, and surface stains from teeth. Here is what you can expect:

  1. Examination: Before the procedure begins, the dentist will examine your oral cavity and teeth to check for any signs of dental problems.
  2. Scaling: Using manual and ultrasonic scalers, the dentist will gently remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, paying special attention to areas around the gumline and in between teeth. 
  3. Polishing: Tooth polishing is performed using a special polishing paste and a rotating brush. This helps remove any remaining surface stains and leaves your teeth feeling smooth and clean.
  4. Fluoride treatment: In some cases, a fluoride treatment may be applied to the teeth after scaling and polishing. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel, reduce tooth sensitivity, and help prevent cavities.

Your dentist will provide you with instructions on how to care for your teeth after the procedure, including how to maintain good oral hygiene habits and when to schedule your next appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

The entire procedure usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the amount of buildup on your teeth. Patients with gum disease (periodontal disease) may additionally require further cleaning (gum treatment) to remove plaque and tartar located deep below the gumline. This may be done within the same sitting or at a following appointment as advised by your dentist.

While mild vibration and pressure may be felt, a scale and polish procedure should not be painful. That being said, every patient is different and may react differently to the cleaning process. Patients who experience pre-existing tooth sensitivity or gum disease may be more prone to feeling sensitivity or soreness during the procedure. If that is so, you are encouraged to discuss these at any time during the appointment so our friendly dentists can change their approach or offer anaesthesia, as required. Your comfort is always a priority to us.

It is safe and side effects are uncommon. Any side effects are usually minor and temporary. After a scale and polish, teeth may be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Bleeding gums is a feature of gum disease (gingivitis) so bleeding from the gums can occur, especially if gum disease is already present. With any of these side effects, your dentist may recommend desensitising toothpastes, fluoride treatments or mouthwashes to help.

A scale and polish can help to remove surface stains and help your teeth to appear whiter and brighter. However, there are occasionally deeper stains and discolourations which are impossible to remove by a scale and polish procedure alone. Instead, other professional tooth whitening procedures may be required. These include chairside or take-home bleaching, and cosmetic treatments such as veneers.

On average, most patients should have a scale and polish every six months as part of their regular dental check up and cleaning. However, your dentist may suggest more frequent cleanings if you have specific oral health needs. Patients who suffer from periodontal disease (severe gum disease) are recommended to visit the dentist for supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) and cleaning every 3 months to ensure that their gum condition is under control and that there is no relapse.


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