Scaling and Polishing

Frequently Asked Questions (Click on Questions to See Answers)

A - Over time, even with good teeth cleaning, plaque and tartar can attach to the teeth similar to lime build-up in a kettle or iron. The saliva fluids in our mouths contain calcium and bacteria. The bacteria part that sticks to the teeth is the plaque and the calcium deposit combined with the bacteria is the tartar. When plaque builds up on the teeth, it causes bacterial growth on the teeth and gums that can cause decay and gum disease. Scaling is the dental treatment used to remove the plaque and tartar, and polishing is the treatment to smooth and shine the teeth so that calcium and bacteria cannot as easily attach to the tooth surface.

A - All of us at some point need to have our teeth scaled of plaque and tartar build-up, and then polished to reduce the rate of further deposits. As part of good oral hygiene standards, it is recommended to visit the dentist every six months for teeth cleaning and to check up on your overall oral health.

A - By removing the plaque build-up of bacteria, it reduces tartar and the possibility of tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria that causes decay and gum disease, and that thrives on tartar accumulation, is less likely to attach to calcium deposits if the teeth are scaled, cleaned and polished with a smooth tartar-free surface.

A - Dental scaling and polishing is recommended to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and may be necessary every six months depending on the oral condition of a patient. Choosing not to visit a dentist regularly, and therefore not to have dental scaling and polishing, can result in excessive tartar build-up, tooth decay and gum diseases. Teeth may rot and fall out or need extracting.

The infection can spread to other teeth and to the rest of the body via the root canals and blood vessels. Infection poses not only the danger of losing teeth, but also nerve damage and jaw irregularities that affect facial features and appearance. Have teeth properly cleaned contributes to improved oral and overall health, and builds self-confidence because of an appealing appearance.


A - Dental scaling and polishing is important to prevent the spread of infection and disease from the mouth to the rest of the body, that impacts physical and mental health.

A - According to oral hygiene standards, it is recommended that patients visit the dentist every six months for an oral health check-up, to discuss any medical changes such as new medications that can affect oral wellbeing, and to have teeth cleaned with scaling and polishing where necessary.

A - Either the dental hygienist or the resident dentist will use fine scaler and ultrasonic or electric instruments to scale the teeth, removing all plaque and tartar. Tartar is gently removed through vibrations and sprays of water mist from the ultrasonic instrument. The dentist moves the instrument tip over the teeth and you may feel a tickling sensation but usually no pain. The vibration pressure can also be altered to suit tooth sensitivities.

Once all or most of the plaque and tartar is removed, the dentist may use a fine scaler or curette instrument to displace smaller pieces of plaque and tartar that the ultrasonic instrument could not reach. Thereafter, the patient is asked to swill the mouth with a fluoride mouthwash to rinse away all the loose pieces of tartar.

With all the plaque and tartar now removed, and the teeth clean and smooth, the surfaces are ready for polishing. A polishing instrument with a spinning soft rubber cup containing prophylaxis paste is used to further smoothen and shine the teeth surfaces. The polishing may then be followed by a fluoride gel or foam treatment applied via trays to the teeth, and then spewing out of all excess saliva.

A - The procedure is safe because dentists are trained to diagnose and identify plaque and tartar deposits. As part of their qualifications, dentists learn how to safely use scaling and polishing instruments, applying the appropriate amount of pressure in each case.

A - Similar to teeth whitening home kits, teeth scaling and polishing home kits can pose risks to patients because they are not trained to use the tools properly and can cause damage to the enamel of their teeth, and to their gums. It is best to seek professional advice about scaling and polishing teeth, rather than attempting to do so oneself.

A - The cost of teeth cleaning, scaling and polishing, depends on the dental practice pricing structure and also on the diagnosis of each patient. Sometimes cleaning of teeth with scaling and polishing precedes other treatments, such as root canal therapy, filling, veneers, or implants. Our resident dentist can advise you on the condition of your teeth, treatments available, our pricing structures and cost plans for affordable care.

A - Different cultures may take diverse approaches to teeth cleaning, such as a “miswaak” twig from the peelu or arak tree that is used in Arab communities instead of a tooth brush. Some may use salt or lemon juice instead of toothpaste. However, global dental standards recognise that fluoride-containing toothpaste and the recommended rotative brushing movements with a toothbrush do reduce likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease from plaque and tartar buildup.

Once the plaque and tartar becomes a deposit on the teeth, this needs to be scaled off to prevent further accumulation. There may be differences in the brand of instruments used and the sizes, but scaling and polishing tools are aimed at the same purpose of removing the tartar deposits to clean and smooth the teeth for better and brighter health.