Scaling & Polishing

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 January 2021

 Scaling & Polishing


What is it?

A 'scale and polish' cleans your teeth very thoroughly.

Scaling removes the tartar which forms on your teeth like scale inside a kettle. You cannot remove it by brushing your teeth. Scaling also removes trapped food and plaque containing millions of germs which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Stains from coffee, tea, cigarettes or red wine are also cleaned away when your dentist polishes your teeth.

A dentist or hygienist will scale your teeth. If you clean your teeth thoroughly anyway, your scale and polish will take less time.

What happens?

There are two ways to scale teeth.

  • Hand scalers – these come in different sizes and shapes, to reach different parts of your teeth.
  • Electric scalers – these use very fast vibration with water. The water is sucked out of your mouth. A hand scaler is used to check whether the teeth are completely clean.

For polishing, your dentist will use a rotating brush or rubber polish with toothpaste. Scaling cleans above and below the gums. If you have gum disease, scaling needs to be deeper, around the roots of the teeth. This is called 'root planing'. Your dentist may give you a local anaesthetic to make it more comfortable. Your dentist or hygienist will tell you about the best way to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly at home.

What are the benefits?

  • Regular scaling and polishing helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy by making it easier for you to clean at home. You should see and feel the difference.
  • If your gums bleed when you brush, which you can prevent by regular scaling and cleaning your teeth thoroughly at home.