Tooth Polishing: Tips, Tricks and Recommendations
Tooth polishing is something all dentists and hygienists do, but very few do it in the same way. There is no set methodology when it comes to polishing teeth and restorations.
Over the last 18 months, polishing has been the subject of much debate within the industry in relation to aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) and novel Coronavirus.
Some dentists have chosen to limit polishing procedures, adjust their technique, or stopped altogether. Others have continued to treat polishing as a “business as usual” procedure whilst following the relevant PPE and fallow time guidelines, and practicing good ventilation.
With things slowly returning to normal, teeth polishing should once again start to become routine. In preparation for this, we have put together a handy list of some dental polishing tips, tricks and recommendations.
What is dental polishing?
Dental polishing is a dental treatment carried out primarily to clean, smooth and improve the health of teeth and restorations. It is often done as part of a “scale and polish”.
It can help to remove stains, remove plaque, smooth the tooth surface, whiten teeth and prevent gum disease.
There are two main dental polishing methods: via prophy cup, and air polishing.
The prophy cup method involves the use of a slow speed handpiece with a rubber (prophy) cup, brush or polishing disc attached to the working end. Prophylactic (prophy) paste containing abrasives is applied to the cup/brush/disc and used to polish the teeth.
With an air polishing system, a specialist handpiece is used to provide a jet of pressurized air and water mixed with an abrasive agent to remove stains that are deeper, or where teeth are more sensitive.
Tips, tricks and recommendations for dental polishing
Find the right prophy paste
Much like dental composites, the selection of prophy paste is a very personal choice: they vary in terms of handling characteristics and technique.
The three main types of prophy paste are fine, medium, and coarse. Coarse and medium pastes are more effective at removing surface stains, but can cause abrasion and damage to the tooth. Fine pastes are less damaging and create a more highly polished finish, but may not be as effective at removing stains.
It is important to identify the type of stain and then consider the coarseness of the paste needed.
Advantageous features to look out for in a prophy paste include:
- A taste palatable for most patients (such as mint or berry)
- Easy to rinse off
- Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
DEHP Prophy Paste is recognized for its ability to whiten, brighten and neutralize pH, and contains all the features mentioned above.
Splatter can be minimised by using handpieces set to an appropriate speed. Dental nurses should be on hand with suction support to reduce splatter further.
For the most reliable results, purchase a polishing handpiece specifically designed for polishing procedures as these can prevent the ingress of polishing paste.
Make polishing economical
When using prophy paste, a little goes a long way. Reduce wastage and prevent paste from getting everywhere by using only a small amount at a time.
Invest in handpieces and heads that are autoclavable. Though some dentists will sterilise and disinfectant prophy cups, single use products can increase cost-effectiveness and may be more appropriate in line with your infection control procedures.
At Kent Express we sell all your essential dental polishing materials and small equipment. Thousands of items are available and in stock, plus you’ll receive free next working day delivery every time you order online.
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