Dental Hygiene: Scaling – APLUS Institute

Ultrasonic Scalers vs Hand Scaling

Ultrasonic Scalers

Ultrasonic scalers can effectively remove tartar (calculus) deposits from the teeth. A high vibration energy chips off the tartar and a water spray washes it away and keeps the tip cool. The ultrasonic scalers are just as effective for removal of calculus in shallow gum pockets and even more effective in pockets greater than 4mm. They are good in disrupting biofilm from the root surfaces and within the periodontal pockets. Using specially designed tips, they can penetrate deeper into periodontal pockets than manual scaling.

When used correctly they are gentler to the tooth structure where frequent cleaning is necessary. If used efficiently the ultrasonic scalers require less appointment time than manual scaling. The smaller tips causes less tissue swelling making this more comfortable for the patients. The ultrasonic scaler may not remove all the tartar, and hand scaling may still be necessary. The ultrasonic scaler is very efficient for removal of heavy stubborn tartar.

Is Ultrasonic Scalers suitable for all patients?

The ultrasonic scalers may affect certain cardiac (heart) pacemakers, although most modern pacemakers are shielded. Ultrasonic scalers are not recommended for patients with hypersensitive teeth. They are also not recommended for early demineralization (early mineral loss leading to decay), porcelain or composite repairs and titanium implants, unless specially designed tips are used that will not scratch them.

Some patients do not like the vibration of the ultrasonic scaler and the jet of water that is turned on to wash away the tartar (calculus). If there is any gum recession or cavities in the teeth, a sharp sensation will be felt due to the sensitivity. This can be avoided by using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain ingredients that will block the exposed teeth surface, making them less sensitive prior to scaling.

Manual Scaling

Manual scaling is done with a dental scaler and curette to remove the tartar (calculus). The instrument is held in a modified pen grip to reduce hand fatigue. However it may be difficult for the dentist or hygienist to see the tartar in some areas, and sometimes rely on touch to identify the areas of tartar buildup. The use of sharp instruments is necessary in the hand scaling procedure. The sharpening of the scalers and curettes is very important unless you use new generation ones that do not require sharpening.

Light to moderate tartar buildup is usually removed by manual scaling and hygienist’s skills are very important for this procedure.

The best approach is achieved, by combining the ultrasonic scaler and manual scaling to remove the tartar.