Go ahead and brush multiple times a day. Floss. Use mouthwash. It doesn’t matter.
The dentist will still scrape your teeth until it feels like you don’t have any left.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have good oral hygiene. You definitely should. But you should be aware of what that dental scaler (scraper) does and how it works.
Because you can actually use this at home. Then maybe the dentist won’t have to do so much scraping at your checkups.Creative Commons
What Is a Dental Scaler?
A dental scaler is the tool a dentist uses to scrape the plaque and tartar off of teeth. It’s a metal hand tool with an end shaped like a curved or hooked blade.
It sounds threatening, but it’s actually a super important tool in the dental tool belt. And you can actually get one for your at-home oral hygiene care kit too.
You might think it’s a tool only for the professionals, but you can buy one online or at most retails stores. Usually they cost about $10 or less. It may add some time to your daily teeth-cleaning routine, but it could be worth it.
How To Use a Dental Scaler
After you get your scaler, get a feel for what it weighs and how it balances. Then stand in front of a mirror with bright lighting (this will help you see small stains and tartar).
Look very closely at your teeth. Find the visible stains and any tiny debris left over from flossing. Use a dental mirror (which you can also buy online) to see the backs of your teeth.
Once you find a stain, place the tip of the scaler against your tooth at the gumline. Slide the scaler away from the gum line and note any roughness along the surface of the tooth. This will be when the scaler catches on the surface — this could mean you have tartar.
Continue to use this method for scraping every tooth with plaque and tartar buildup. Each tooth your scraped should have a smooth feel to it.
Once you’re done, rinse the scaler and dental mirror under the faucet and wash with soap or some other disinfectant. Dry them off and store them away.
Boom. You’re done. Not too hard, right?
But how often should you do this? Experts recommend you scrape your teeth at home about once or twice a month. And, this may be obvious, but scaling your teeth at home should never replace regular dentist checkups.
Dental Ultrasonic Scaler
An ultrasonic dental scaler does essentially the same thing that a typical metal hand-held scaler does, but better. Using electromagnetic forces, these scalers are basically like electric toothbrushes but in the tooth-scaling family.
Magnetostrictive vs. Piezoelectric Dental Scaler
The two biggest types of ultrasonic scalers are magnetostrictive and piezoelectric. They both operate the same way, but there is a key difference between them:
- Magnetostrictive Dental Scalers: cleaning head moves in an elliptical motion (think of an elliptical bike)
- Piezoelectric Dental Scalers: cleaning head moves back and forth in a straight line
Both types of scaler vibrate super fast — between 25,000 to 45,000 times per second. They actually need a consistent stream of liquid to keep the tool from overheating (this process is called lavage).
Lavage also flushes out any debris from the area the dentist is cleaning. Plus, there’s also something called cavitation, which is when the steady stream of water creates million of bubbles. Cavitation is good for breaking down bacterial walls.
Because of this rapid motion, ultrasonic scalers are able to scrape so much more plaque and tartar from the surface of teeth without damaging them. Some cleaning tips are fine enough that they can also scale roots.
According to RDH Magazine, most dentists prefer to use only magnetostrictive dental scalers because of the effectiveness.
Ultrasonic Dental Scaler For Home Use
While a regular, non-ultrasonic scaler is okay to use at home, ultrasonic scalers are not good for at-home use.
This tool is much more advanced than a manual scaler. It requires certain techniques and lots of training. In fact, many suppliers won’t even let you buy one without the approval of a dentist. If you misuse this tool even in the slightest, it could lead to oral damage to your teeth and gums.
There may be some extreme cases where your dentist approves of using an ultrasonic scaler at home, but those are most likely rare. For now, we should all just stick with a manual, metal scaler.
Benefits of Using Dental Scaler
There are plenty of benefits of using a dental scaler. And everyone could use a good scraping of the teeth now and then.
Specifically, here are the main benefits:
- Removes stains, plaque, and tartar from surface of teeth
- Helps prevent periodontal disease
- Can make dentist visits less uncomfortable as the dental hygienist may not need to do as much scraping of your teeth.
- A dental scaler scrapes plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth.
- When using a dental scaler, carefully scrape the surface of your tooth starting at the gum line and moving toward the bite of your teeth.
- There are two types of dental scalers: magnetostrictive (moves in an elliptical motion) and piezoelectric (moves in a linear motion) — magnetostrictive are the preferred type.
- Don’t ever use an ultrasonic dental scaler at home unless directed by your dentist.
- Dental scalers help remove stains, plaque, and tartar in check and can help prevent periodontal disease.