Posted By: Amanda Banks, BS RDH
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had many teeth cleanings in your life thus far. For the most part, you probably know what to expect at your cleaning appointment. Sometimes you have x-rays taken, we always pick at your teeth with those sharp metal instruments, and we always polish your teeth at some point during the appointment. That being said, there’s more than one way to clean teeth, and like so many things in this world, methods are changing and evolving with the development of new technology. We’re going to talk about a new cleaning method that is taking the dental hygiene world by storm, because you may experience it at your next cleaning appointment.
What is Air-Polishing?
Air polishing is a type of polishing that has been around for years, though we have not used it in our office in the past so you may not be familiar with it. Air polishing in the past was always done with a substance called sodium bicarbonate and was often compared to “sand blasting” the teeth. Polishing this way was effective for certain things, but it had many limitations. It was too rough on the gums and the root surfaces of the teeth, so the hygienist would have to be very careful not to let the spray hit these areas. Many patients sometimes found it uncomfortable, which is understandable since being sand-blasted in the face probably doesn’t feel good, and it inevitably would get on the face. Many people are now taking a new look at air polishing, however, because there are new substances available which have many advantages over the traditional sodium bicarbonate. These new substances are glycine and erythritol.
Glycine and erythritol are both much smaller particles than sodium bicarbonate. The particles are anywhere from 1/5th to 1/10th of the size. That means they are much gentler on the tissues in your mouth. Not only will they not hurt your gums, but they can be safely sprayed under the gums to help get you even cleaner and make your gums healthier. They are also safe for exposed root surfaces, meaning we can remove plaque and stain without hurting these areas of the tooth. Both substances are biocompatible also, meaning they do not harm living tissue and are very safe to use. Being able to clean the exposed root surfaces and under the gums is giving great results both during the cleaning and also over time, as clinicians are seeing healthier gums in their patients when they return. I also want to note that this way of cleaning is particularly great for patients with braces. It is normally very difficult to clean around the wires and the brackets of a patient with braces, but air-polishing is much easier and gives more thorough plaque removal.
Polishing in this way is so effective, we are even changing what we call it. Instead of polishing, this way of cleaning is being referred to as “biofilm removal” because it is better at completely removing the biofilm (basically bacterial colonies) that lives on the teeth and under the gums. Using this method, the patient will have the complete biofilm removal done first, with the air polisher, and then after we will go back and remove the hard deposits of calculus (tartar) that remain. Removing tartar will be done as it has been in the past, with regular or ultrasonic scalers. However, this part of the cleaning should be easier, as everything else will already be cleaned away, and seeing the areas which have hard build up will be easier.
Amanda using the air-polisher on a patient
Schedule Your Next Dental Cleaning in Fayetteville, AR
At Keech Family Dentistry, we are committed to giving our patients the best that dentistry has to offer. By utilizing advanced dental technology and modern treatment, we are able to yield high quality, long lasting results. If you have not visited the dentist for your biannual dental cleaning, visit our Fayetteville dentist office. If you would like to schedule your next dental cleaning, call (479) 217-3178, or request an appointment online.