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Oral Prophylaxis (Scaling) PDF Print E-mail

Tooth scaling (Oral Prophylaxis)

Dental hygienist scaling a patient's teeth.


Dental hygienist scaling a patient's teeth.
Two ultrasonic scaler inserts (top) and a hand scaler (bottom).

Two ultrasonic scaler inserts (top) and a hand scaler (bottom).

Tooth scaling involves the mechanical use of a dental instrument that scrapes away bacterial plaque and calculus from the tooth. Sometimes this device may be electric, known as an ultrasonic or sonic scaler. Scaling is performed on the part of the tooth that is exposed, the crown of the tooth, as well as the portion that is normally covered by, but not attached to, the gum. In combination with good personal dental hygiene, scaling the tooth surface that is in this gum pocket is an effective treatment for early periodontal disease.

Hand scalers are commonly used in dental offices. These tools can vary greatly, but usually include a handle portion and at least one bladed, balled or pointed tool tip, a common example being a bent metal tip.

Sonic and ultrasonic scalers are powered by a system that causes the tip to vibrate. Sonic scalers are typically powered by an air-driven turbine. Ultrasonic scalers typically utilize either magnetostrictive or piezoelectric systems to create vibration. Magnetostrictive scalers utilize a stack of metal plates bonded to the tool tip. The stack is induced to vibrate by an external coil connected to an AC source. Many ultrasonic scalers also include a liquid output or lavage, which aids in cooling the tool during use. The lavage can also be used to deliver antimicrobial agents. There is some debate over whether there is an advantage to sonic or ultrasonic scaling over hand scaling and some issues arise from powered scalers. Powered scalers tend to create aerosols, which can spread pathogens. [1]

References

  1. ^ Academy of Periodontology Report: Sonic and Ultrasonic Scalers in Periodontics.
  • Dickson, Murray [November 1983] (July 1996). "Scaling Teeth", Where There Is No Dentist (pdf), 7th printing (in English), Palo Alto, CA: The Hesperian Foundation, 121-128. ISBN 0-942364-05-8. Retrieved on March 2006.

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