What does a dentist use to clean my teeth?
Depending on the amount of build-up the dentist discovers on your teeth. Your dentist will use different tools. They will also have different processes for cleaning your teeth too.
There are a number of specialised dental instruments to gently remove build up without harming your teeth. Let’s go through the ones your dentist might use so that you can be familiar and know what to expect at your next check-up.
How does an Ultrasonic Scaler clean my teeth?
An ultrasonic scaler uses vibrations to dislodge larger pieces of tartar/calculus deposits loose. At the same time as vibrating it sprays a mist of water. This washes away the debris to stop it re-sticking to your teeth and keeps the area from heating up and being uncomfortable.
This dental instrument often makes a humming or high pitched whistling sound. That sounds very loud to you as the sound gets amplified by being inside your mouth. In the same way an electric toothbrush sounds really loud to you when it’s inside your mouth when brushing your teeth.
The ultrasonic scaler has a curved hook rounded tip that is passed over and around the teeth. These tips look sharp but are not. Their purpose is to knock calculus deposits loose.
There is nothing to panic about if it feels like your dentist is taking a long time in one particular spot.
In tricky spots to brush your teeth you may develop larger deposits that have hardened. It may take your dentist a little longer to dislodge these build-ups than in other areas.
What are scalers and curettes? How are they used to clean my teeth?
Once the larger pieces of calculus have been removed, your dentist will switch to using hand instruments. Those long slender metal pencil like tools.
The dental instruments used for cleaning teeth are called scalers, picks or curettes.
These dental instruments are shaped and designed to scrape off smaller build-ups and run across the tooth surface to locate small deposits. Scaler and curettes are curved and dangerously pointy looking. Their purpose is to remove calculus by carefully scraping build-up off your teeth with gentle to moderate pressure.
Once all the surface build-up is removed from your teeth. It is time for your dentist to decide whether to give your teeth a polish.
Why does the Dentist polish my teeth?
Your teeth may be polished to remove fine layers of plaque or small traces of calculus debris.
Your dentist may polish some or all of your teeth depending on what they see after cleaning your teeth.
Traditionally, polishing was a standard part of your check-up dental clean, however it is not an essential part of the process. In most patients it has little therapeutic value and so you may never have your teeth polished.
If your dentist does need to polish one or some of your teeth. They will use a slow speed drill, except the drill bit is replaced with a very soft rubber cup. They fill the rubber cup with a special tooth polishing paste called Prophylaxis paste (or prophy for short). Prophy paste tastes like mint flavoured mud and feels like gritty toothpaste.
Once the rubber cup on the end of the dentist hand-piece is filled, your dentist will start it up and then selectively place the spinning rubber cup on the surfaces of your teeth they want to polish. It may sound like a drill, but it is definitely not a drill!
The result you get from having your teeth polished is a smooth glossy feeling when you run your tongue across your teeth.