What Is a Scale and Polish?

What Is a Scale and Polish

What Is a Scale and Polish?

Dental hygiene, scale and polish, teeth scraping, teeth cleaning… So many different terms to describe the management of your oral hygiene by a dental hygienist. But are they all the same thing? What else does a dental hygienist do? We’ll answer all of this and more!

What Is a Scale and Polish?

A scale and polish is a teeth cleaning procedure done by a dental hygienist during a dental hygiene appointment. In smaller dental practices, a dentist may also perform a scale and polish, however, in larger dental practices, dentists perform dental surgeries and procedures while a hygienist looks after and cleans your teeth.

During a scale and polish, the plaque on your teeth will be scraped off with a special tool in a painless procedure. Plaque is a hard substance stuck to your teeth formed by bacteria, which eat away at the outer layer of our teeth called enamel.

Bacteria naturally live in our mouths and feed on the sugars from our food, which is why we have to effectively practise good oral hygiene, to remove the bacteria and stop the plaque from forming. If the plaque is not removed, holes form in our teeth called cavities, exposing the sensitive dental pulp below our teeth and making our gums vulnerable to infection.

Once the plaque is removed, a buffing tool is used to polish the teeth, removing surface stains to make the teeth brighter in appearance, as well as making the teeth smoother and less likely to hold onto bacteria to form plaque.

Does a Scale and Polish Whiten Your Teeth?

Sometimes people expect their teeth to be whiter after a scale and polish, and while your teeth will be more evenly coloured thanks to the removal of the yellowy plaque, they won’t necessarily be whiter. Polishing your teeth will make them shinier and brighter in appearance, however, if you want your teeth to become a shade or a few shades lighter in colour, you’ll need to have your teeth professionally whitened.

Teeth whitening involves spreading a chemical paste evenly over your teeth and adding a UV light to enhance the effects, which results in whiter teeth.

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

A dental hygienist will have a diploma or university degree in dental hygiene or dental hygiene and dental therapy, which take 2 to 5 years to complete, so even though they are not qualified to perform major dental surgeries like dentists, they still have excellent qualifications to help you look after your teeth.

The main role of a dental hygienist is to help you maintain good oral hygiene as well as give you pointers to fix your oral hygiene if necessary. During a dental hygiene appointment, they will:

  • perform a check-up
  • do a scale and polish
  • advise on any dental issues you may have

It’s first and foremost each person’s responsibility to look after their oral health, however, a dental hygienist plays a crucial role in our dental hygiene routines, and a dental hygiene appointment should be made at least every six months. Even if you brush and floss your teeth well, it’s natural for some plaque to build up in the hard-to-reach areas between your teeth. A dental hygienist is there to help remove this plaque as well as advise on which teeth need extra attention in your oral hygiene routine.

Can You Eat After a Scale and Polish?

Can You Eat After a Scale and Polish?

Most of the time, after having your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist, you can eat and drink as normal afterwards, although it’s advisable to avoid very sugary foods and drinks as well as products that stain easily for at least 6 hours after the appointment.

Food and drink that stain easily include:

  • Red wine
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Soy sauce
  • Curry
  • Balsamic vinegar

If during your hygiene appointment you also had your teeth air polished or a fluoride treatment, you should wait at least 30 minutes after your appointment to eat or drink for the best results.

Is a Dental Hygiene Appointment Worth it?

Dental hygiene appointments are generally not very expensive, although they can vary greatly depending on what you have done during your appointment. At Didsbury Dental Practice, we have three options for dental hygiene appointments, beginning with a simple 20-minute quick clean, a 30-minute deeper clean, and a 30-minute deep clean followed by 30-minute teeth whitening. Prices for these dental hygiene appointments range from £20 to £120.

Even though dental hygiene appointments are reasonably priced, if you’re afraid of visiting the dentist, it still may not seem worth it for you to part with £20 to £120 twice a year. However, dental hygiene is very important, not just for your oral health, but also for your overall health. So when you consider how poor dental health can affect the health of your body, you’ll realise that dental hygiene appointments aren’t just worth it, they’re essential.

Why Is Dental Hygiene Important?

Why Is Dental Hygiene Important?

Even though there are excellent methods of removing, replacing and covering broken or missing teeth these days, it’s still better to keep our natural teeth and vital to keep our mouths clean.

If we allow cavities to form, bacteria can penetrate the sensitive dental pulp below the tooth, which causes infections in our gums, they become inflamed and we suffer from gum disease, also known as gingivitis. This can not only be incredibly painful, causing toothache, sensitive teeth and gums and even headaches but the inflammation, bacteria and infections can spread throughout our body in the blood vessels and into the digestive system.

Harmful bacteria travelling through the digestive system due to poor oral hygiene can make us very sick, causing stomach irritation leading to vomiting, as well as conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

When left untreated, the infection travelling through the blood vessels can cause them to become constantly inflamed, causing cardiovascular disease which greatly affects the heart and brain, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Other health risks caused by poor oral hygiene ranging from mild to severe can include:

To avoid very problematic and potentially fatal health conditions such as these, it’s very important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine, which includes twice-yearly visits to dental hygienists.

3 Tips to Improve Dental Hygiene

3 Tips to Improve Dental Hygiene

If you now understand the importance of keeping your mouth bacteria-free and seeing your dental hygienist for a scale and polish, don’t worry – it’s not too late to improve your oral hygiene. There are 10 main steps to follow for the best oral hygiene, however, here are the top 3:

Watch What You Put in Your Mouth

From tobacco products to high-sugar foods, foods with staining properties and sugary drinks, the first step to taking care of your teeth is controlling what you put in your mouth.

Brush Twice a Day

As soon as you wake up in the morning and just before bed are the most important times to clear your mouth of harmful bacteria that want to consume food particles in your mouth and eat away at the protective enamel on your teeth. Don’t let them! Floss in the gaps between your teeth and use a soft toothbrush to remove the bacteria from your teeth, gums and tongue.

Visit the Dental Hygienist

Try as you might, there’s likely to be bacteria left that sticks to your teeth and forms plaque, harming your teeth and causing them to turn an unpleasant yellow colour. By visiting the dental hygienist at least twice a year, you can have the plaque removed and increase your chances of keeping your teeth strong, healthy and whiter for longer.

Book Your Dental Hygiene Appointment Today!

Ready to book your dental hygiene appointment? Look no further than Didsbury Dental Practice! Located just outside Manchester, we have appointments available from 9 am to midnight every day, so you can book your dental appointments at a time that suits you.

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