Difference Between Teeth Whitening, Scaling and Polishing

Tooth Scaling

Scaling is the nonsurgical way of removing or eliminating the dental plaque, its products, and calculus which cause inflammation thus helping to establish remission of periodontal diseases. Scaling involves cleaning the areas below the gum line. The tools used for scaling are periodontal scalers and periodontal curettes.

Scaling first involves removal of a plaque; a soft yellowish-grayish substance that adheres to the tooth surfaces including removable and fixed restorations. The plate consists of bacteria in a matrix which makes it impossible to remove the plaque by rinsing or using sprays. Plaque accumulation in the gum line begins to irritate and infect the gums causing gingivitis. Gingivitis stage continues, and the bacterial plaque infiltrates the periodontal pocket. This plate eventually transforms into calculus, and the process continues resulting in deposits under the gum and an increase in pocket depth.

Gingivitis keeps leading to bone loss. The process will persist, causing greater damage until removal of the infectious bacterial agents and irritating local factors. Scaling is performed using ultrasonic and hand instruments. After scaling, additional other steps may be carried out to ensure disinfection of the periodontal tissues.

Tooth polishing

Tooth polishing is done to smooth surfaces of teeth and restorations. The purpose of polishing is to remove extrinsic stains, remove dental plaque accumulation, and increase aesthetics to reduce corrosions of metallic restorations. It is a cosmetic procedure after debridement and before fluoride application. Tooth polishing is a process carried out as a part of oral prophylaxis in most dental practices. During polishing, removal of plaque, biofilm, stains and acquired pellicle occurs. An important factor is that patients respond positively to the smooth and clean feel that polishing produces. Furthermore, it is less painful and stressful than scaling; and easier for the patient to understand and tolerate. Polishing produces tangible benefits, which the patients can see and feel. It associates removal of plaques and extrinsic stains. Today the focus of tooth polishing is to give a highly polished and aesthetic appearance by removing bacterial plaque biofilms and extrinsic stains. But before we do polishing, one needs to identify the type of stains and also understand the contraindications for tooth polishing. During the process of tooth polishing, proper technique should be followed to reduce unnecessary abrasion on the exposed enamel and dentine surfaces. Use a least abrasive polishing agent that will remove plaque biofilm and stain. Control the time, speed and pressure during the procedure. Full mouth polishing is still widely practiced but selective polishing is being recommended as the gold standard in many educational institutions.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening are a safe and proven way to brighten your smile and boost your confidence. It is one of the most popular dental procedures as it is a fast, easy and inexpensive solution for improving your smile and dramatically enhancing your appearance. It involves a cosmetic procedure that helps to lighten teeth by removing stains and discoloration. There are four types of peroxide-containing teeth whitening products.

In-practice products are applied by a dental professional. These products contain a high percentage of peroxide and are applied directly to the teeth, sometimes activated by heat, light, or laser. If you want fast results and don’t have tooth sensitivity, this may be the best option for you.

A take-home product supervised by a cosmetic dentist contains a lower percentage of peroxide than in practice products and can be worn in a tray overnight or during the day at home. A custom-fitted tray is made to hold the teeth whitening product directly against the teeth while minimizing its contact with the gums. The common stains of aging will whiten in 7-14 days.

Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products contain a small percentage of peroxide. Use a lot of these products with caution since they contain an acidic solution that can damage tooth enamel.

Teeth whitening works by peroxide in teeth whitening products dissolves the organic stains in the tooth to change the color and produce a bleached effect. It is achieved by entering the tiny pores of the enamel and dentin and breaking up the stains that block out light. More light passes through the teeth and makes them look brighter as the dyes break into smaller and smaller pieces.

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