Teeth Cleaning Ultrasonic Scaling vs. Hand Tools

The process of removing tartar and plaque from teeth is called scaling. It comes before teeth polishing, and it is an essential step in the teeth cleaning procedure. Dental hygienists know that it can be performed manually or with ultrasonic teeth cleaning. Handheld scraping instruments were used in the past, but newer ultrasonic devices have smaller tips and are quite useful in clearing deposits from deeper gum pockets. The tools work by emitting ultrasonic vibrations to clean the teeth. Let’s take a look at how both hand and ultrasonic scaling tools work.

Manual Scaling

When it comes to clearing tartar and plaque from areas of the teeth that are easy to reach, both ultrasonic and manual scaling tools are adequate. However, with manual scalers, the clearing cannot be done as quickly as with ultrasonic scalers. These tools are also less useful when cleaning built-up tartar and plaque. Many dentists think that they are best for cleaning demineralized areas of teeth and composite and porcelain restorations.

The upside of hand scaling tools is that they can be picked up and used with ease. The downsides are the time needed to complete the scaling procedure and are not so practical for cleaning deeper gum pockets.

Ultrasonic Scaling

Ultrasonic scaling has proven to be as useful as hand scaling tools at clearing teeth from tartar and plaque as well as from shallow gum pockets. The advantage of ultrasonic scalers is that they’re great for cleaning deeper gum pockets, thanks to the small tips of these tools. It allows them to reach areas where hand scaling instruments have more trouble. Ultrasonic scalers also spray coolant (which adds to the clearing of built-up tartar and plaque) and introduce oxygen bubbles that disrupt the bacteria that “hates” oxygen.

Ultrasonic scalers work by sending out vibrations which knock tartar and plaque off the teeth. With manual tools, patients feel the scraping metal against their teeth. Ultrasonic devices can also interfere with pacemakers because they are electronic.

Is Ultrasonic Scaling Suitable for Everyone?

Even though most modern pacemakers are shielded, ultrasonic scaling tools may affect them. Ultrasonic scaling is not recommended for people with hypersensitive teeth, for early demineralization, titanium implants (unless the dental hygienist uses specially designed teeth that will not scratch,) and composite and porcelain repair. Some people don’t like the jet of water (for washing away the tartar) and the vibration of the ultrasonic scaler. Due to the sensitivity of the teeth (if there are any cavities in the teeth or gum recession), patients may feel a sharp sensation. It can be avoided with special toothpaste for sensitive teeth which contain ingredients that make the teeth less sensitive before ultrasonic scaling.

When it comes to weak teeth, manual scaling tools require an active scraping force and can expose teeth to decay (besides removing significant amounts of enamel) and teeth sensitivity. Ultrasonic scalers are less damaging to tooth surfaces so older patients may find them a better choice than manual scalers.

This should help you to choose between manual or ultrasonic scaling. Ultrasonic scalers are another example of how dental care is made easier with technological advancements in the field. Dental Specialties Institute, Inc. offers a complete course in Ultrasonic Scaling. It is a prerequisite for the Orthodontic Assistant Permit course.