There are two techniques for removing dental plaque and tartar during your dental cleaning appointment: manual or ultrasonic. Manual cleaning is done with hand instruments – scalers and currettes where the plaque and tartar are scraped from the teeth. The second technique uses ultrasonic scalers. Ultrasonic tooth scalers generate up to 50,000 vibrations per second which produce the formation of bubbles filled with water vapor. The vibration stretches and compresses these tiny bubbles until they implode and release a burst of pressure. When the bubbles implode, they produce energy that tear apart the cell walls of oral pathogens. Ultrasonic scalers also produce a steady flow of water which will flush out the gingival pockets to help remove bacteria from around the teeth and gums.
Patients can benefit in many ways from using the ultrasonic scalers. The ultrasonic scalers tend to be much quicker in removal of calculus than hand instruments, they use a water spray to lavage the tissues, and coffee/tea stains can be removed with more ease. However, the one downside to the ultrasonic scalers is that patients with recession of the gums can experience sensitivity. The sensitivity is caused by the vibrations of the scaler against the exposed tooth surface that was once covered with gingival tissue. Therefore, hand instruments are sometimes still preferred by some patients. Since there are advantages and disadvantages for both hand instruments and ultrasonic scalers, one cannot be preferred over the other and often times they are used together for a complete dental cleaning.
If you have any questions or concerns, dental hygienists in our office will be glad to address and answer them.