Scaling, the process of removing plaque and tartar from teeth, is an important step in the hygienist’s teeth cleaning procedure that comes before polishing. Those of you that have seen our new hygienist, Amanda-jane, may have already noticed she favours the use of ultrasonic teeth cleaning. But why? While manual teeth scaling with a handheld scraping instrument was standard in the past, modern dentists and hygienists are increasingly using ultrasonic scaling devices instead. These new tools work by using ultrasonic vibrations to knock plaque and tartar off and away from the teeth. Here is a look at how these options compare to each other.
Ultrasonic Teeth Cleaning
Research has shown that ultrasonic scaling instruments are at least as effective as manual scalers at removing tartar from tooth surfaces, including from within gum pockets that are shallow. However, where ultrasonic instruments really shine is in the clearing of deposits from deeper pockets. The tips of these tools are small, allowing them to easily reach areas where manual tools have more trouble. Furthermore, the coolant sprayed by ultrasonic scalers actually adds to the dislodging of accumulated plaque and tartar. At the same time, ultrasonic scaling tools also introduce oxygen bubbles into these deeper pockets which disrupt the oxygen hating bacteria which thrive deep within.
Manual scalers are as effective as ultrasonic ones for clearing plaque and tartar from easy-to-reach areas of the teeth. In fact, the ease with which manuals scalers can be picked up and used as needed can make these tools better suited to removing minor accumulations of plaque. There are some downsides to using manual scalers though, such as increasing the time needed to complete the teeth cleaning procedure. Finally, manual scalers are less effective than ultrasonic ones at clearing away heavily built-up plaque, tartar and staining and, as explained above, cleaning deeper pockets.
Safety for Seniors with Weakened Teeth
One might expect ultrasonic scaling tools to be more hazardous for weak teeth, but the opposite is true. Manual scalers, which require a scraping force to be effective, have the potential to remove significant amounts of enamel, potentially exposing teeth to decay and causing tooth sensitivity in some patients. By contrast, powered scaling instruments have been shown to be less damaging to tooth surfaces. This means when older patients need teeth scaling, ultrasonic scalers are likely a better choice than manual ones as far as tooth enamel is concerned.
Ultrasonic teeth cleaning is another example of technology making dental care easier for patients. At Hilton Dental Practice patients may be treated with a variety of dental cleaning tools depending on their unique needs and risk factors.