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  • Angela Murphy, RDH

DIY Teeth Cleanings....User Beware!


A dental hygienist uses a dental scaler and/or ultrasonic cleaner to remove tartar above and below your gum lines. You may have seen some of these tools for sale at your local store or online.


How These Dental Cleaning Tools Work

These metal tools have sharp cutting edges that dental hygienists use to remove plaque and tartar from teeth. During dental scaling, plaque is removed from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line. Hygienists might also scale the surfaces of the roots – a process known as root planing – to smooth the area and remove plaque and stain.

Removing plaque is important. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth, it can cause problems like gum disease and tooth decay. The bacteria in the plaque release acids as they feed, and these acids break down the tooth enamel. These acids can also lead to gum disease. However, while plaque needs to be removed, it shouldn't be done at home. It should be done by a dental professional, such as a dental hygienist.


Dangers of DIY Plaque Scraping

Although plaque scrapers are widely available in stores, it's not a good idea to use them yourself. These tools are specialized medical tools and it takes training to learn how to use them safely. Dental hygienists must attend college or university to receive their degree, and most of these programs take at least two years to complete, explains the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario. This extensive training ensures that dental hygienists know how to use dental scalers and other tools safely.

Because plaque scrapers are sharp, improper use can damage the delicate gum tissue. Trauma to the gum tissue isn't just painful, it can also cause gum recession. This means that the gum tissue lowers and exposes the sensitive roots of the teeth. The sharp plaque scraper could also cause injuries to your cheeks, tongue, or other soft tissues. Infections may also occur as a result of improper use of plaque scrapers. Tartar can be accidentally pushed under the gum line, and this can lead to gum issues.


Removing Plaque Safely

If you're concerned about plaque/tartar accumulation--- visit the dental hygienist at PURE Dental Hygiene Care. She can check your mouth to determine if you have plaque, tartar or other dental problems that need to be addressed. If necessary, plaque and tartar will be removed safely by a trained and licensed dental hygienist.

While it's not a good idea to use a plaque scaler at home, there are things you can do at home to keep your teeth healthy in between dental visits. Clean between your teeth daily, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and rinse daily with an antibacterial rinse.


Plaque removal is important for good oral health, but it's not a DIY project. If you're worried about plaque, be sure to see your dental hygienist for safe optimal oral healthcare treatment.


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