What is it?

Scaling is a way of removing hard plaque from the teeth, which cannot be done by brushing alone. The hard plaque is called calculus, which builds up over a period of time and is made from a combination of saliva, bacteria and debris. It builds up mostly behind the bottom front teeth and around the back teeth on the top. This is because these areas are where the salivary ducts enter the mouth.

Polishing is a way of smoothing the tooth surface and preventing bacteria from sticking to it straight away. It is not always essential after scaling, but it’s helpful and many patients like it.

Why is it done?

It is important to remove the calculus because it cannot be done at home by your normal brushing habit. The rough surface can irritate the gums and also be a surface for more bacteria to cling on to. If not cleaned off this can cause decay and fillings may be needed but can also lead to gum disease. In some cases if the gum disease progresses teeth can become loose and you may lose them.

The polishing is done afterwards to make the surface very slippery for the bacteria and mean they can’t stick to the tooth as easily.

How is it done?

Normally a combination of hand instruments and machine are used for a good result. The machine is used like a hand instrument but moved around the teeth. It uses water spray but the vibrations make the removal very quick and efficient. Any areas that couldn’t be removed are then gone over with specially designed instruments for different parts of the mouth. You might hear some scrapping noises but this is just the calculus being removed off the teeth and the teeth are not being damaged.

The polishing also uses a hand piece with either a brush or rubber cup. The dentist will use paste or a powder and liquid on the brush or cup and gentle press onto the surfaces of the teeth. The motion will be circular and can be angled differently to be able to reach all the surfaces. Afterwards you can have a rinse and everything should feel smooth.

Who will treat me?

The dentist can either do this treatment or more commonly you may go and see a dental hygienist/therapist to carry out the scaling. Both are able to perform the procedure and will be able to give you advice on how to reduce calculus building up in the future.

How often will I need it doing?

Calculus builds up over a period of time so if you are brushing well and use products to clean in between the teeth it should be very minimal. Often when you go for regular check ups they dentist may remove any small deposits that may be present or if there are large areas that require treatment another appointment will need to be booked.

How much will it cost?

Prices depend on who treats you but may range between £30-£50 for the dentist and £30-£90 for the hygienist as the appointment will most likely be longer.