Scale and polish: 6 benefits of professional teeth cleaning

We all know that we should brush our teeth at least twice a day. This is because a film of sticky plaque starts to build up throughout the day, which turns acidic when it comes into contact with the sugars in food and drinks. 

If left unchecked, this plaque builds up so much that it begins to harden, forming a substance called tartar or calculus. This is extremely difficult to remove, but if you don’t, it can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

To get rid of the build-up and prevent gum disease and damaged teeth, you should look into scaling and polishing treatments. This is a type of professional teeth cleaning procedure that’s also known as descaling, scraping, or mechanical plaque removal.

You may have heard of a scale and polish before, but do you know exactly what happens during the process, and why you could benefit from it? Read on to find out.

What is tooth scaling?

There are sometimes harder-to-reach parts of the mouth that you miss during your ordinary brushing routine, which is where bacteria can start to build up, accumulating plaque and tartar.

Dental hygienists have specialist tools at their disposal to tackle these areas, disrupting the biofilm on your teeth and gums by scraping away the hardened deposits of bacteria and minerals.

This is a non-invasive process that doesn’t require anaesthesia, as it shouldn’t hurt. Your dental hygienist is likely to use an ultrasound scaler to break up the hard substances on and in between your teeth, which vibrates at high speed and may also use a jet of water to flush them out.

In stubborn cases, the hygienist may also use manual instruments with no vibrations or water to remove the remnants by hand. During the entire process, you may feel a scraping sensation, and the oscillating tool and steady water stream may tickle your gums slightly.

What is tooth polishing?

Once the dental hygienist is satisfied that your teeth have been properly descaled, they will move on to thoroughly cleaning your teeth and gumline with further professional instruments. This part of the process is more cosmetic, but it does have a practical purpose, too.

Your hygienist will typically use a rotating pad with a special kind of toothpaste applied on it to polish your teeth – kind of like a high-end electronic toothbrush. 

Alternatively, they may embrace newer technology and use an Airflow polishing machine. This uses a mix of air, sodium bicarbonate powder, and water in a powerful jet. This technique is especially helpful for removing stains from the surface of the teeth at the same time.

While the polishing procedure leaves your teeth looking bright and shiny, it also smooths the surface of your teeth to remove rough textured patches. This gives bacteria less opportunity to stick to the surface, protecting your teeth against plaque building up.

What are the benefits of a scale and polish?

A scale and polish dental treatment is a great way to keep your mouth healthy. Not only does it leave your teeth and gums feeling satisfyingly clean, but it also has a range of long-lasting benefits. 

1) Helps to prevent gum disease

Gum disease starts as irritation from bacteria forming a biofilm on your teeth when they aren’t cleaned properly. The more this builds up, the stickier and harder it can become, until it cannot be removed from your teeth and gums with simple brushing.

Mild gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, can be reversed by tackling the hardened tartar and allowing you to brush properly again. If you allow the tartar to keep building, the bacteria sticking to it can spread into the pocket between your tooth and gum.

This can cause more severe gum disease called periodontitis, which not only damages the soft tissue, but can also eventually cause damage to the bone. Ensuring that your teeth are thoroughly descaled and cleaned can help you to maintain optimum gum health.

2) Helps to prevent tooth loss

When plaque builds up on your teeth and gums in the places that you inevitably miss with your toothbrush, it not only irritates the gums, but can also cause tooth decay as the bacteria starts to eat away the hard protective surface of the tooth.

This may begin as a small hole, or multiple small holes, which can eventually grow into a large cavity if left untreated. Depending on how deep the cavity goes, it can cause severe sensitivity when eating or drinking due to the exposed inner pulp, as well as an ongoing toothache. 

Growing cavities can eventually destroy the tooth, until the only thing that can be done to treat it is removing the tooth completely. They can also result in infections, which can cause extremely painful abscesses. Visiting your dentist for regular check-ups and undergoing a scale and polish if recommended can help to stop plaque and tartar in its tracks before it can get this far.

3) Helps to reduce staining

When you miss spots while brushing that allow plaque to gather, you’ll also be allowing stains to form from things like coffee and tea or tobacco, which haven’t been cleaned off properly. This discolouration can make people self-conscious about their teeth.

A scale and polish treatment can help to reduce superficial stains on teeth. The polishing process is not a whitening treatment, but your teeth are likely to look whiter and brighter afterwards due to being restored to their natural colour and polished to a shine.

With plaque and tartar removed, and rough surfaces smoothed out, it will also be harder for stains to form in the future, as long as you maintain more thorough oral hygiene at home. Having a clean and bright smile is sure to give you a confidence boost, too.

4) Improves oral hygiene

The removal of built-up plaque all over your teeth and gums leaves your mouth as clean as it’s possible to get, and once any hardened calculus has been removed, it will be much easier to clean your teeth properly at home to prevent it from building up again.

During the scale and polish procedure, your dental hygienist will be able to observe which parts of your mouth you’ve been missing when brushing at home. They can then advise you on the areas that you should pay attention to in future and which techniques you could use.

For example, you might benefit from flossing between particular teeth more often, or you may need to make sure that you’re brushing right down to the gum line rather than just the top part of each tooth. A scale and polish can give you the motivation to improve your brushing technique to maintain its good results.

5) Gets rid of bad breath

When it comes to bad breath, poor dental hygiene is one of the most common causes. Build-ups of bacteria and lingering food particles can lead to both a bad taste in your mouth and an unpleasant smell – which can also make you self-conscious.

Nobody wants to be known as that person with the bad breath, so if it’s an ongoing issue for you, a scale and polish could be a quick solution to bring your teeth and gums back to optimum freshness. Your dental hygienist’s tips should also help you to maintain better cleanliness.

Other problems, like gum disease, can also cause bad breath. Your dental hygienist will be able to identify this and advise you on the best ways to treat this issue. With the underlying cause addressed, you should be able to say goodbye to lingering bad breath.

6) Saves money in the long-term

Thorough dental hygiene – including regular check-ups with your dentist and periodic scale and polishes with your dental hygienist – is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. The better care you take of your teeth and gums, the fewer problems you’ll experience.

As we’ve already mentioned, leaving plaque and tartar untreated can lead to infections, cavities, and even tooth loss in severe cases. When you skip preventative measures like dental checks or a scale and polish, it could be a far more costly mistake than you might think.

Corrective and restorative treatments like root canals, extractions, fillings, crowns, or implants can be quite expensive, not to mention uncomfortable to go through. The costs of not taking your dental hygiene seriously can add up over time, so why let it get to that stage?

Do you need a scale and polish treatment?

Not everybody needs to get a scale and polish treatment – if you clean your teeth and gums well enough when brushing your teeth at home, you shouldn’t experience plaque or tartar severe enough to need descaling. 

However, plenty of people would benefit from attending a scale and polish appointment at least once or twice a year. For example, anyone who may be prone to gum disease, such as pregnant or diabetic people, should consider a scale and polish.

Similarly, anyone who struggles with effective teeth cleaning is likely to need such treatments periodically. There are many reasons for this, such as poorly aligned teeth or disabilities that make it difficult to hold a toothbrush, which dental professionals would never judge patients for.After all, it’s a dentist’s or dental hygienist’s job to treat your teeth and advise you on what to do to look after them better – which is what you can expect if you book a scale and polish Warrington. You could be leaving the dental clinic in as little as 30 minutes with beautifully clean teeth, fresh breath, and renewed confidence in your smile.