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What Can You Tell Me About Ultrasonic Scalers For Cleaning Teeth?

Posted Sep 12 2008 4:18am
Ask Dr.A
dradental.com



The answers given by Dr.A are intended as non-professional advice, for entertainment only if you will. Please do consult with your dentist of record or your physician before making any decision regarding your dental or medical health.



Q. My dental hygienist used something called an ultrasonic water jet while cleaning my teeth. Is this something I could use at home? I don't think they've ever used that technology on me before. She said it's a technology that's been around since the seventies. What is the history of this technology?

Dr.A Ultrasonic scalers were first proposed for cleaning calculus off teeth in 1955, and later became an acceptable alternative to hand cleaning instruments in 1960. They became widely used in the 70's and 80's for removing plaque (sticky food debris) and calculus (hard mineralized debris) supra-gingivally (above the gums).

They work by way of vibrational energy as the tiny tip oscillates (vibrates) rapidly helping to break apart the tough mineralized calculus. The tip also sprays a jet of water which aids in flushing away debris and helps in keeping the tooth cool. This is especially important since extreme heat applied to a single tooth could cause damage to the nerve.

Ultrasonic scalers are especially useful for patients with severe buildup of calculus on their teeth. However, there are many debates about whether ultrasonic scalers can completely replace hand instruments. Many argue that hand instruments are better at removing smaller pieces of calculus under the gums and can leave the tooth surface much smoother than ultrasonics can. Currently, many dental offices use both. The hygienist usually uses the ultrasonic first, then follows with a more detailed cleaning with hand instruments.

Care must be taken if certain areas of teeth have incomplete formation of enamel, as the vibrational energy of the ultrasonic scalers could cause damage to the underlying dentin layer.

Ultrasonic scalers can be operated by certified dental hygiensits and dentists only. So as you can imagine, there aren't any home versions of the systems, at least that I am aware of.




The answers given by Dr.A are intended as non-professional advice, for entertainment only if you will. Please do consult with your dentist of record or your physician before making any decision regarding your dental or medical health.




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