Ultrasonic Cleanings

Cleaning With Ultrasonic Scaler.After a thorough, professional tooth cleaning, you know that your teeth look brighter and feel fresher. But tooth cleaning isn't just about appearances. It's the primary means of preventing and treating periodontal (gum) disease. Many studies have demonstrated a possible link between periodontal health and overall (systemic) health — which means regular tooth cleaning may benefit not just your mouth, but your whole body.

Why do teeth need special cleaning? Over time, dental plaque (a naturally occurring bacterial biofilm) and stains build up on tooth surfaces. Dental calculus (also called tartar), a harder deposit, can then form both above and below the gum line. A thorough dental cleaning removes these substances from the teeth, and helps keep disease-causing bacteria from proliferating.

Tooth cleaning is usually accomplished by the non-surgical technique of scaling, sometimes called “root debridement.” It's typically a relatively painless procedure in which small dental instruments are used to physically remove deposits from the surfaces of teeth. At one time, scaling was performed entirely with manual tools. But in the last several decades, the ultrasonic scaler has changed all that.

What Is An Ultrasonic Scaler?

Ultrasonic Scaler.There are different types of ultrasonic scalers, but all of them work in a similar fashion: electromagnetic forces in the unit's hand-held “wand” cause its tiny tip to vibrate rapidly. These vibrations, which occur at a rate faster than the speed of sound, effectively blast away plaque, calculus and stains from the tooth surfaces.

A small stream of water and/or antibacterial mouthwash, which emerges near the tip of the scaler, is called lavage. Lavage is used to cool the ultrasonic scaler's tip and flush away debris from the area being treated. The vibrating tip causes some of the water to break into millions of tiny bubbles, an effect called cavitation. This ruptures the walls of bacterial cells and helps create an environment that's less hospitable to harmful bacteria.

Ultrasonic Scaling vs. Hand Scaling

Studies show that a thorough ultrasonic cleaning takes about one-third less time as compared to hand scaling — which means you need less time in the chair. Many patients prefer ultrasonics to other types of scaling, possibly because it requires the clinician to use less force than a hand scaler to get the same effect. In ultrasonic scaling, only the tip of the tool touches the tooth surface, and only for a short time.

It's also possible to remove deposits of plaque and tartar from under the gum line by using an extremely small tip on an ultrasonic unit, which can cause less discomfort and result in a deeper and better cleaning. Sometimes an ultrasonic scaler is used first, and then any stubborn areas are scaled by hand.

The Experience of Ultrasonic Scaling

Anyone who has a substantial buildup of tartar or is prone to gum disease can benefit from ultrasonic scaling. It can also help to remove stains from coffee and cigarettes, for example. Yet, for all its power, most people experience little or no discomfort during the procedure.

If you have very sensitive teeth, it may be possible to alleviate some discomfort by using slimmer tips on the scaler. Alternatively, a topical anesthetic may be applied, or conscious sedation can be administered. The power range, the flow of lavage water and the frequency of tip vibration may also be adjusted for increased comfort.

Special tips are also available to clean composite or porcelain tooth restorations, titanium implants, or areas of demineralization (enamel loss) on your teeth. If you have a cardiac pacemaker, be sure to alert all dental professionals/personnel before ultrasonic scaling treatment, so precautions can be taken.

Related Article

Ultrasonic Scalers - Dear Doctor Magazine

Dental Cleanings Using Ultrasonic Scalers Rapidly changing technology has revolutionized periodontal therapy with the integration of power scaling techniques resulting in improved clinical outcomes, patient comfort, and reduced time and physical demands on clinicians... Read Article

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Testimonials

What Our Clients Say About Us

  • "The staff are always so accommodating and friendly, no waiting and very good and thorough dental work"
    Sherri W.
  • "I rated 10 on the question about referring a friend because I have done so. She went yesterday and I asked her about the experience and she was very pleased. No surprise here!! I have always felt that the people who help me, including Dr. Alpert, treat me and my dental health at a level of attention far above that required to simply do a job. They show a genuine concern about my welfare; I need their help; I am glad they are there. As Dr. Alpert said on my last visit about a potential issue, they will “keep an eye on it” for me. I find that vigilance genuinely re-assuring. Over the years I have have come to appreciate that re-assurance as a form of good medicine."
    Robert W.
  • "Very friendly staff! Dr. Alpert is a very good Dentist. I have been very happy with the quality work he has done on my teeth. I highly recommend him!"
    Martha L.
  • "I had a very good experience there, everyone was very friendly professional and good at what they do. I had a cleaning which was virtually pain free and 2 fillings done in one visit.
    I will be going back to this dentist and would recommend to anyone that I know."
    Harold H.
  • "I have been going to the Dental Care of Waterford for over 50 years. The receptionist(s) are eager to make you feel welcome and relaxed. Becky, the hygienist is caring and efficient.
    Dr. Lloyd Alpert does a thorough exam and addresses any concerns and asks if there is still problems.
    The staff is quick to respond to any concerns their patients have.
    I would highly recommend Dental Care of Waterford, MI."
    Barbara R.
  • "haven't had the ability to see a dentist in over 3 years due to Covid and loss of insurance. Now that i was able to seek dental care i was able to schedule an appointment within 3 days of calling to have a cracked filling taken care of... Staff is amazingly friendly and considerate of any needs and even asked if I had insurance just to make sure I could have X-rays done and not have to pay for my visit with one of my kidneys. Dr. Alpert is wonderful! Explained everything that he was about to do and how it might feel. completely painless and fast visit for a filling nonetheless. I definitely have found my new dental office and can actually say I look forward to my cleaning!"
    Kelly S.
  • "This was my first visit to Dr. Alpert's office. I was referred by a friend. Everyone was so nice and knowledgeable. I had the most thorough cleaning I think I've ever had. Everyone put you completely at ease. I highly recommend this dentist."
    Karen M.
  • "Ever been in a situation where you have a dental emergency and call about 20 dentist offices trying to get in? I have and Dr. Alpert's office was the only office to get me in within 24 hours. They were able to help me with my shattered tooth problem totally painlessly. Anytime I've been in for a cleaning, the wait has been minimal. The staff is friendly and professional. I'm in and out in no time. I would highly recommend Dr. Alpert to anyone in the area for last-minute needs and cleanings. His offer is a little hard to spot but it is right off M59 and there is ample parking"
    Alexandrea L.