Ultrasonic Scaling for Dental Hygiene
Traditional dental cleanings or 'prophies' consist of removing the calculus and plaque and polishing the teeth. This was done with instruments called scalers and prophy cups. The scalers are essentially sharp metal blades honed by the hygienist to a knife edge that are scraped against the tooth to remove the tenacious calculus. The prophy cup is a rubber cup used in the slow speed drill with a fine grit powder called pumice that is spun against the tooth to polish away placque and stain. Both techniques although somewhat eefective historically aslo have a serious downside.
The scaler not only removes the calculus from the tooth but also scrapes off the outer surface of the tooth leaving a very rough and uneven surface. A lack of smooth surface allows placque and calculus to stick to the tooth easier.
The prophy cup has been shown to not only remove placque and stain but also the outer fluoride layer that we try so hard to achieve with toothpastes and varnish to prevent cavities.
About 55 years ago Ultrasonic Scalers were introduced . The instrument is not a blade at all but a smooth rounded instrument that is vibrated Ultrasonically to polish off calculus more efficiently and without scarring the tooth surface. The Ultrasonic scaler actually burnishes the tooth surface to an even smoother surface. The instrument does generate heat at the tip as a result of the Ultrasonic energy so water is flushed over the tip into the mouth to avoid any problems with the heat buildup. The water flow also helps in flushing away the removed debris.
The prophy cup has a more modern and effective couterpart as well. The prophy jet is an air water sprayer that has baking soda added to the mixture. The result is better placque and stain removal without sanding the fluoride off the tooth surface.
Modern instrumentation will help you to maintain a healthy, happy attractive smile! Insist that your dental Hygienist use modern euipment to clean and protect your teeth.