As part of your initial examination, and subsequent routine 6 monthly checkup, you will usually require a professional cleaning done by the dentist or the hygienist. This professional cleaning is where we do the scaling and polishing.


Scaling is required when calculus has formed on the gum margins of the teeth. If you have read the Plaque and Calculus information page, you will remember that calculus:

  • is calcified/hardened plaque
  • sticks to the teeth, and is not readily removed by brushing your teeth
  • almost always accumulates on the tongue side of the lower front incisor teeth, and the cheek side of the upper back molar teeth. (Click here to find out why)
  • can accumulate under the gums
  • can accumulate if not removed regularly
Scaling your teeth

The use of an ultrasonic scaler is normally required to remove calculus. This usually involves a lot of water, and a very high pitched noise which causes the calculus to detach from the tooth. Hand scalers can also be used to scrape the calculus off in harder to reach places.

When you haven’t had scaling done in a long time, the first cleaning session may take longer than normal, and will feel very different after the treatment. Sometimes, there may be an increase in sensitivity to the teeth for a while. We advise using a sensitive toothpaste while it remains uncomfortable.


Polishing your teeth

This procedure is a bit more comfortable than scaling. The aim of polishing is to remove any further remaining plaque and to remove a certain amount of staining. The polishing action acts very similarly to an electric toothbrush (which is why we recommend them).

This normally requires the use of pumice or polishing paste, and a brush or rubber cup.