What is Tooth polishing?

Tooth polishing is a treatment that is a part of oral prophylaxis procedure in most dental practices. It is a procedure of smoothing the tooth surfaces in order to make it glossy and lustrous. Although the term polishing has been used to describe the professional removal of soft deposits and stains from the tooth surfaces, in reality, this includes both cleaning and polishing. Polishing will leave tooth surface smooth. Tooth polishing is also done to smooth the surfaces of the tooth restorations. Polishing is performed in order to prevent plaque renewal and make the teeth nicely smooth so that bacteria cant retain. The main purpose of tooth polishing is to remove extrinsic stains, remove dental plaque accumulation, increase aesthetics and to reduce corrosion of metallic restorations. Tooth polishing has little therapeutic value and is usually done as a adiional procedure after debridement and before fluoride application.

How is Polishing performed?

Tooth polishing process is usually done by dentist or dental hygienist. It is done by using a soft rubber cups, bristle brushes or prophy angle and polishing paste. Rubber cups, also called prophy cups, are used in the hand-piece. Rubber cups (picture 1) should be only used on enamel and not be used over the cementum area because it may remove a layer of cement tissue it the cervical area. By using a rubber cups there is some risk of generating frictional heat, and increased abrasion to the tooth surface. It may result differently depending from contact time, speed of rotation, and pressure of the cup on the tooth.

gold inlays

Next most used method for tooth polishing is polishing with bristle brushes and prophylaxis paste. These brushes (picture 2) should be used only on the crown in order to avoid injury of the gingiva and cementum.

gold inlays

gold inlays

Prophy angle(picture 3) is another tool for tooth polishing. It integrates a rubber cup into a high torque gear, which can be plugged into a low speed handpiece and drive rubber cup to polish teeth.

Polishing paste is used with rubber cups, bristle brushes, prophy angle in order to help polishing and remove stains. It is applied on the area of the tooth which requires polishing. There are few types of prophylaxis paste. Some pastes have bigger particle sizes and they are more potent in removing the external stains and plaque. Some of the dental practitioners prefer using these pastes because they eliminate the dental stains easily and quickly. However, pastes have bigger particle sizes have a high abrasive strength, and can cause the damage of the tooth enamel. Prophylaxis pastes which have smaller particle sizes make the tooth surface cleaner and also make the tooth surface less prone to plaque and stain accumulation. But, polishing with these pastes is a laborious and a more time-consuming procedure. If a cases when patient has severe stain, an air polishing system can be used. Air-powder polishing is used with a specially designed handpiece. Air polishing delivers an air-powder slurry of warm water and sodium bicarbonate for polishing. This method is very effective for the removal of stains and soft deposits. This treatment have also some contraindications. These contraindications are sodium restricted diet, hypertension, respiratory illnesses, infectious diseases, renal insufficiency, and also some medications.

Tooth polishing is not a routine dental procedure, and a careful case selection and right indications are verry important. With right indications it is excellent prophylactic procedure that leaves clean and smooth teeth instantaneously after the treatment.