Oral prophylaxis or scaling is thorough scaling and polishing of teeth by a professional, which involves the use of dental scaling instruments that removes dental plaque and calculus (tartar) from the teeth. It is commonly known as tooth scaling. Oral prophylaxis involves cleaning of the part of tooth that is exposed as well as the portion that is normally covered by gums but not attached by gums.
When do I need oral prophylaxis:
We clean our teeth everyday with tooth brushing and flossing but over a period of time due to various food and bacterial action our teeth get stained, calculus also get developed due to deposition of food debris in the mouth. We can’t remove these stains and calculus simply by brushing that is why oral prophylaxis become necessary to remove these harmful deposits and keeping gum-tooth interface clean and healthy which in turn minimize the possibility ofgum disease, gum swelling and bleeding.
Instruments and procedure :
There are two ways for tooth scaling.
1) Hand scaling: Dental professional may use hand instruments of different sizes and shapes to reach different parts of your teeth. Nowadays, due to introduction of advanced electric instruments use of hand scalers is limited.
2) Sonic and ultrasonic scaling: These are electric scalers, which are sonic and ultrasonic scalers, powered by a system that cause the tip to vibrate and calculus is removed by combined action of water spray and vibration of scaler tip.
Sonic scalers are powered by air-driven turbine while ultrasonic scalers utilize either magnetostrictive or piezoelectric systems to create vibration.
Polishing – There are some polishing instruments like rotating brush tips or rubber discs, and with the help of prophylactic paste they are used for polishing which removes stains from teeth. Polishing is done after scaling of teeth. Scaling removes calculus while polishing removes stains from teeth.
How frequently do I need oral prophylaxis:
Dental plaque deposition on teeth is continuous process. If plaque is not removed by proper brushing, it gets mineralised into tartar within a day or two. Some people tend to form calculus in a very high rate. Those may need tooth scaling in shorter periods.
Generally we should get oral prophylaxis done one or two times year depending upon condition of teeth and gums. Golden rule is to have routine dental check up every six months, your dentist will advise you whether you need oral prophylaxis or not.
Benefits of oral prophylaxis (tooth scaling):
1. If your gums bleed while brushing your teeth, this may be the early sign of gum disease. Regular scaling helps you to stop disease at initial stages.
2. Deposition of calculus and conditions like gum diseases can lead to bad breath, which can be prevented by tooth scaling.
3. Scaling and polishing are very helpful for making teeth look shiny and more beautiful.
4. It must be taken into consideration that scaling of teeth does NOT weaken teeth but it helps to minimize various gum problems.
Good oral hygiene is a key factor in keeping good health. Having regular check up and necessary treatment helps you to maintain healthy teeth and gums. With regular professional care and positive attitude, you can lead a healthy lifestyle with brighter smile.