Healthy teeth and gums make a person feel confident and fit. As people go about their routines and with different eating and drinking habits, the tooth enamel turns yellowish or gets stained.

Polishing, conventionally has been associated with the prophylaxis procedure in most dental practices.Now-a-days, polishing is not advised as a part of routine oral prophylaxis procedure but is done selectively based on the patient’s’ need.

What is tooth polishing?

1.Tooth polishing is a procedure carried out as a part of oral prophylaxis in most dental practices. It is an act of smoothing the tooth surfaces to make it glossy and lustrous.

2.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.

Types of polishing:

1.Therapeutic polishing – Refers to “the polishing of the root surfaces that are exposed during surgery to reduce toxin and microflora on the cementum.”

2.Coronal or cosmetic polishing – Is defined as “a procedure designed to make the tooth free of plaque and extrinsic stains.” The process of achieving a smooth, mirror-like enamel or material surface that reflects light and is characterized as having a high luster; accomplished with a fine to extra fine grit abrasive agent so that the surface scratches are smaller than the wavelength of visible light .

3.Superficial polishing – it is a term related to the polishing of the crown of the tooth. It is now considered as a cosmetic procedure with minimal therapeutic benefit.

4.Selective polishing – It is used to indicate that cleansing and polishing procedures are only provided when justified by the tooth surfaces that have visible stains after scaling, and oral debridement is complete. Selective polishing is also known as extrinsic stain removal or selective stain removal.

The most accurate term for all of these procedures is selective stain removal, which indicates the removal of extrinsic stains after professional scaling, using a rubber cup, bristle brush, and/or an air-powder polishing system; though everything depends on the assessed needs of the patient.

How is it done?

Commonly used first is an ultrasonic instrument which uses tickling vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. It also sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a proper temperature.

Once all the surfaces are smooth, the dental worker may polish your teeth. Polishing is done using a slow speed handpiece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis (short for prophy) paste – a special gritty toothpaste-like material – is scooped up like ice cream into the cup and spun around on the teeth to make them shiny smooth.

Is it painful?

Most people find that cleanings are painless, and find the sensations described above – tickling vibrations, the cooling mist of water, and the feeling of pressure during “scraping” – do not cause discomfort.

Tooth polishing used to be a standard part of a dental cleaning appointment. Each patient should be assessed individually for polishing of teeth. Teeth are polished only if stains are present which scaling was unable to remove.

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