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Teeth Cleaning – (scale and polish)


teeth cleaning

Open wide! If our zebra hygienist is busy with other patients, our regular hygienist will be happy to step in to do your teeth cleaning. Regular dental cleanings remove from your teeth surfaces all plaque, which is a soft, sticky, bacteria infested film, as well as tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on your teeth over time. This type of teeth cleaning that we’re talking about here is a preventative cleaning. If you suspect something more may be needed in your case or your dentist so advises, you may need a deep cleaning instead. Learn more here about the difference between a regular preventative teeth cleaning and a deep cleaning. If the scale or tartar is allowed to accumulate on your teeth it can provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive next to your gums. The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is basically to keep the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and you have a better chance of keeping your teeth clean during your regular home care. I’m sure you’ll notice that after having a professional teeth cleaning (prophy), your teeth feeling smooth and clean, a difference you can notice when you run your tongue around your teeth. We recommend you get a professional “prophy” teeth cleaning at least every six months. Prophy or prophylais comes from the Greek and means ‘to prevent beforehand’. In this case we’re preventing gum disease also known as periodontal disease.Dental teeth cleaning is done either by the dental hygienist or by the dentist, using specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. The instruments which may be used during your cleaning, and what they feel like, are described below.

Ultrasonic instrument

Often used first for a teeth cleaning is an ultrasonic instrument which uses vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose while it sprays a cooling mist of water to wash away debris and keep the area at a proper temperature. This device typically emits a high-pitched whistling sound. With larger deposits that have hardened on, it can take some time to remove these, just like trying to remove baked-on grime on a baking pan. So your teeth cleaning may take longer if you haven’t had a cleaning in awhile. Future regular cleanings will then take less time.

Fine hand tools

Once the larger pieces of tartar are gone, finer hand tools called scalers and curettes are used to remove the smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth. These smaller tartar deposits are removed by scraping them off gently.


Once your teeth are smooth, the dentist or hygienist may polish your teeth. Polishing is done using a slow speed hand piece with soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste – a special gritty toothpaste-like material – is scooped into the cup and spun around on the teeth to polish them.