What is Air Polishing and Scale & Polish and how much does it cost?

Air Polishing £85 – 30 mins

Scale & Polish procedure £69 – 30 mins

Over time, bacteria-containing plaque can build up on teeth. This can lead to gum disease (gingivitis), calculus (tartar) build up, and can cause stains to develop on your teeth.

Traditionally a scale and polish has been used to remove these problems, but air polishing is an increasingly more popular alternative to the traditional cleaning.

The ‘Scale and Polish’ Procedure

A scale and polish is a very common dental treatment which is carried out as a form of oral preventative medicine.

So, why do you need a ‘scale and polish?’

Plaque can corrode the teeth over time which causes cavities and tooth decay as well as bad breath. If it leads to tartar formation, especially around the gums then gingivitis can occur. The danger with this is that it can lead to the more serious periodontal gum disease.

A scale and polish can remove plaque and leave your teeth feeling nice and smooth and it will help to prevent gum disease.

What does a scale and polish involve?

The ‘scale’ part of the procedure involves the dentist using an ultrasound device which emits vibrations to loosen large areas of tartar. It will spray a cooling mist at the same time which washes away the debris.

The dentist will use a series of hand tools called scalers and curettes to remove smaller deposits as well as smoothing the surface of the teeth. Your dentist will use these to scrape away these deposits.

Once your teeth are beautifully smooth the dentist will then give them a polish. This means using a handpiece with a soft, spinning rubber cup which is applied to your teeth.

What is Air Polishing Dental Treatment?

Air polishing dental treatment is the use of a powerful combination of water and powder directed at the teeth to help remove plaque and staining.

The main purpose of AirFlow® is to remove plaque and staining from the teeth and just underneath the gums.

By removing plaque (and the bacteria it contains) the main cause of tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis is removed.  AirFlow® is used for:

  • Removing plaque from teeth and underneath the gums, to increase gum health.
  • Removing stains including tea ,coffee ,wine stains from teeth to enhance their appearance.
  • Removing calculus from teeth to promote gum health and make cleaning easier at home.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky substance on the teeth that contains bacteria. 

It is completely normal that plaque builds up over the course of the day. 

However whilst some bacteria in plaque are harmless, some are harmful to your tooth and gum health. This is why not removing plaque causes gingivitis (gum disease) and dental decay.

Over time, if the teeth and gums are not properly cleaned, the plaque is not removed. The plaque builds up and the bacteria in it produce acids which irritates your gums. This can lead to redness with bleeding, swelling and tenderness.

This is the early stages of a condition called gingivitis, or as it is more commonly known, gum disease.

The bacteria in plaque produce acids that can also soften the outermost surface of your tooth, eventually leading to holes in your teeth – dental decay.

Safely removing plaque from teeth will prevent gingivitis and dental decay developing, and air polishing is a professional cleaning service you may want to use in addition to good cleaning at home.

How do stains form?

Staining on teeth is a common occurrence. Extrinsic stains are those which develop on the outside of the tooth as a result of what we put in our mouths.

This sort of staining will often develop at the edges of your teeth where they meet the gums, or in between teeth where cleaning is more difficult.

It is possible to stain your teeth for example with:

  • Tea and coffee
  • Curry 
  • Red wine
  • Chlorhexidine mouthwash (such as Corsodyl)
  • Tobacco/smoking

As we have already said, if you have a build up of calculus, this can stain more easily than your teeth.

How does AirFlow® teeth cleaning compare to a regular scale and polish? 

AirFlow® uses a special handpiece to direct water and powder towards the teeth. This differs from traditional scaling using an ultrasonic or even handpieces, and traditional polishing which uses a rubber cup or brush with a special paste.

More effective cleaning

Air polishing is specialised, because it uses a stream of water and powder to clean the tooth surfaces. This allows the user to reach into difficult to reach areas such as:

  • Interdental spaces
    • These are the tight gaps where the teeth meet, which makes it difficult to reach with a traditional polishing cup, especially between crowded teeth. These areas are missed if you don’t regularly use floss or interdental brushes, or if your technique has room for improvement.
  • Pits and fissures
    • These are the natural dips and cracks in your teeth, some of which can be very fine. It is easy to leave small amounts of plaque and food in these very hard to reach gaps.
  • Around braces (orthodontic brackets) on teeth
    • The metal or white coloured bit stuck to the tooth that holds the wires for braces can be very difficult to clean around.

The water-powder combination can reach just below the gum surface, so can safely remove the bacteria which cause early gum disease, gingivitis. In the long term this can enhance your cleaning at home and prevent the disease progressing to more serious periodontitis.

Overall you get a more thorough and effective clean as bacteria can be removed from more surfaces.

More comfortable

Air polishing uses water which prevents the mouth drying out, a common side effect when using traditional polishing cups and pastes. This makes the experience more comfortable for the patient.

Patients also often find the vibrations, or simply the thought of a drill-like instrument going into the mouth, can be very nerve wracking or uncomfortable with traditional techniques. 

Using and air polishing device such as AirFlow® avoids these problems, putting patients at ease during the procedure.

Faster

AirFlow® is very effective at removing stains because of the powder that is used in the mix. 

Studies have shown that less time is needed to remove the same amount of plaque and stains.

This means that the procedure can be quicker than traditional scaling and polishing.

Is AirFlow® cleaning good for stain removal? 

Air polishing aims to remove the plaque that has built up on your teeth and underneath your gums, and is also very good at removing stains on your teeth.

The effective mixture of water and powder under high pressure gently removes almost all staining with very minimal, if any, damage or side effects.

What happens in the appointment

An appointment will normally last about 40 mins.

Any large amounts of calculus may be removed with traditional methods first.

The AirFlow® is used to direct the water and powder towards your teeth. This is not painful, but you may get a little wet!

After cleaning you can return to your normal daily activities and have a bright white smile.

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