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Teeth Scaling and Polishing: Benefits, Procedure, and Aftercare

What is Teeth Cleaning?

Often Plaque and Tartar accumulate in your teeth and gum line. It will not be cleaned by normal brushing or flossing. The dentist uses ultrasonic devices to remove these deposits. This process makes your teeth clean and prevents cavity.

Why do you need to do scaling & polishing?

Dental cleanings involve removing plaque (a soft, sticky layer of bacteria, food & saliva) and hard tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on the teeth over time. Your teeth are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which help strengthen and protect your teeth. While this is definitely beneficial, it, unfortunately, means that we tend to get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will build up over time, almost like the limescale deposits at the base of your kettle. Usually, it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it can also vary from brown to black in colour.

If this tartar is allowed to build up on the teeth, it will, unfortunately, provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive beside the gums. The purpose of cleaning and polishing is basically to leave the surfaces of the teeth beautifully clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and so provide you a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular daily hygiene regime.

  • To remove stains caused by food (coffee/tea) or tobacco.
  • To remove tartar or calculus – this helps prevent gum diseases which are the main cause of gum recession, loose teeth and subsequently, tooth loss.
  • To allow screening for the oral disease like decay and any cavities.

What are the procedures which are involved in scaling & polishing?

  • Scaling

Specialized instruments are used to gently remove plaque and calculus deposits without harming your teeth. The ultrasonic scaler uses vibrations to loosen hardened tartar that sticks to the teeth/in between teeth. Water spray is also used to wash away the debris. There may be a high pitch buzzing sound heard from the scaler during the scaling process.

  • Polishing

Polishing is usually carried out after scaling to remove stains and make your teeth feel smooth and shiny. Polishing is done with a soft rubber cup that spins. Prophylaxis paste – a special toothpaste-like material is scooped up into the cup and spun around on the teeth.

What is the difference between teeth whitening and scaling & polishing?

Teeth can become more yellow with age and with continuous consumption of dark staining foods like coffee, tea, red wine or tobacco.

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that lightens pigmentation within the teeth. Scaling and polishing is a procedure that removes dental plaque, tartar and extrinsic stains that are present on the outer surface of the teeth.

Scaling and polishing cleans your teeth, preventing and controlling the severity of gum diseases. After scaling & polishing, teeth can appear lighter if there are many stains on the outer surface of the teeth. If the intrinsic colour of teeth is very yellow, there will be no changes after teeth cleaning as the yellow colour comes from inside the tooth.

How often should you get it done?

Your dentist can tell you how often you need to get it done. Most dentists recommend twice a year routine. If you maintain good oral hygiene exceptionally well, some of them recommend that you get it done once a year.

How is it done?

Ultrasonic scalers are widely used in the scaling procedure. An ultrasonic scaler consists of a hand-piece with a variety of tips which are used depending on the type of tartar being removed. The tip of the device vibrates at a very fast rate and removes the tartar and stains from the outer surface of the tooth.

Will it be painful? Will there be bleeding?

If there are only superficial tartar deposits, it may not be painful. If there are deep deposits, your dentist will usually use local anesthesia before the procedure. There may be slight bleeding as the plaque and tartar normally cause gum soreness and touching highly inflamed gums can cause bleeding.

“I’ve heard that teeth become loose after the procedure. Is it true?”

This is a common MYTH. The tooth may appear to be ‘loose’ after the procedure especially if you are suffering from periodontal disease. However, this isn’t because of the procedure.

Even though there is a loss of supporting structures like the gums and bone, the tartar surrounding the teeth may hold the teeth together and give a false sense of stability. When this tartar is eliminated the teeth lose their ‘faux anchors’ and it may seem loose.

“Will it be sufficient to reverse my gum disease?”

In case of initial stages of gum disease, teeth cleaning or scaling may be all you need. However, if the gum disease has progressed to further stages like periodontitis, further treatment may be required. Get regular scaling and polishing done for a brighter and healthier smile.

Benefits of Teeth Scaling and Polishing.

Makes teeth brighter and shinier

Teeth Scaling and polishing remove plaque and tartar from teeth. Plaque and tartar make the teeth appear more yellowish. By removing them, teeth scaling makes your teeth whiter.

Limit gums disease

Plaque and tartar are the major cause of Calculus formation. Calculus contains infection-causing bacteria that increase the risk of gum diseases, Teeth scaling and polishing reduce calculus formation and eliminate the risk of gum disease.

Improve Oral Health

Plaque and tartar are formed on teeth when people don’t follow proper oral hygiene. This eventually builds up calculus and increases the risk of gum disease. Professional teeth scaling and polishing eliminate the risk of gum disease and improve overall health.

Enlisted are a few benefits of scaling and polishing;

  • Clean, smooth, and glossy teeth.
  • Gum bleeding issues are resolved.
  • Sore and swollen gums are treated.
  • Teeth are saved from many dental problems.
  • Oral hygiene is maintained.
  • Freshens up the breath. 


1. Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities

The prime reason people visit the dentist is to prevent cavities. These holes form when plaque begins eating away at the outer layer of your teeth called the enamel.

 Plaque is a sticky white deposit of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Brushing and flossing twice in a day helps to remove plaque buildup, and a professional cleaning every six months is even more effective.

2. Avoid Gum Disease

Gum disease
Plaque doesn’t just decay your teeth – it also damages your gums when it builds up below the gum line. If progressed to advance level, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, regular teeth cleaning decrease plaque buildup and greatly decrease the chance of this happening to you.

3. Remove Stains

Some daily habits such as drinking coffee, tea, and wine or using tobacco products – can cause stains on your teeth. Brushing removes some of this, but stubborn stains can remain on the teeth. This can be eliminated thorough teeth cleaning and polishing from your dentist and it is truly necessary to brighten your smile.

4. Prevent Bad Breath

bad breath
Good oral hygiene habits are the best way to prevent halitosis or chronic bad breath. Brushing and flossing is a good method, but this alone cannot help when you have an underlying dental issue such as tartar buildup – a hard, crusty deposit that stains your teeth and traps bacteria.

In such cases, you may struggle with bad breath despite taking good care of your mouth. Scaling, which is a technique dentists use to remove tartar buildup from along the gum line, is necessary to freshen your breath and restore your confidence.

5. Improve Your Overall Health

Your mouth affects the rest of your body more than you probably realize. It sounds odd, but regular teeth cleaning visits can help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

This is because the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can lead to hardened arteries, which can, in turn, cause a heart attack or stroke. Many other seemingly unrelated medical conditions, from kidney disease to diabetes, can be detected in their early stages simply by visiting the dentist.

6. Save Money on Restorative Dentistry

One of the biggest reasons people skip routine teeth cleanings is to save a few bucks. However, the cost to clean and polish your teeth is far less than the restorative dentistry required to fill a cavity or treat periodontal disease. As it turns out, a bit of preventive care helps you avoid unpleasant and potentially costly problems in the future.

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