When you see a general dentist for a cleaning, you will likely have scaling and polishing done. Scaling is the aspect of the procedure where hardened plaque is scraped off of your teeth. The polishing portion of the procedure is where the dentist or hygienist removes surface stains. Here are some questions you may have about polishing.
Does Everyone Need Polishing?
Unlike scaling, which is vital for everyone, polishing could be optional if you have fantastic oral health. Hence, your hygienist may choose to opt out of this aspect during prophylaxis unless you have severe staining or request it. Polishing is typically covered under preventative insurance, so most people have it done anyhow when they get scaling done. Plus, most people like to have it done because it improves aesthetics and can help their efforts with teeth whitening.
Polishing is vital for people who drink staining beverages or those who smoke. These habits can cause severe staining, so polishing can help. Besides removing stains, polishing is vital for those with restorations made from amalgam. These metallic restorations can corrode and weaken from air and saliva, so polishing them is a great way to increase their longevity.
Does Polishing Damage Teeth?
Like scaling, polishing is very safe and should not damage your teeth. In fact, many polishing agents, like zirconium silicate and chalk, are actually ingredients in over-the-counter whitening toothpaste. Agents like silex and fine pumice are fantastic at breaking up heavy stains or tobacco stains; but, again, they aren't going to damage your enamel.
What Polishing Methods are Used?
There are two methods: rubber-cup and air-powder polishing. With rubber-cup polishing, your hygienist will place a small rubber cup on a slow-speed hand-piece. The hand-piece is dipped it into an abrasive polishing agent, and then the cup is rotated over your teeth.
With air-powder polishing, your hygienist will use a handpiece that delivers a mix of water and sodium bicarbonate. This air-powder mix is under pressure, so when it is released in a stream, it rapidly removes stains. The hand-piece can also be adjusted to control the speed and abrasiveness of the agent.
Which Method is Better?
Rubber-cup polishing has been the standard in the past, but air-powder polishing is becoming more popular due to its benefits.
For instance, if you have very sensitive enamel, then air-powder may be better since you won't feel pressure as a polishing cup presses on your teeth. If you have gum issues, then air-powder polishing may be used as an adjunct treatment since the stream can actually loosen supragingival plaque.
While air-powder polishing might have the slight edge, both options work well. If you don't have any specific dental conditions, then you may just leave the choice up to the hygienist's preference.
For more information about polishing or other dental services, check out a website like http://www.brooksidedentalgroup.com.