Ultrasonic Scalers used in Dental Hygiene

Have you ever wondered what determines the type of instruments your dental hygienist uses for your dental cleaning?  I’m betting that most of you do not think about our dental instruments.  Yikes!  Who wants to think about those sharp pointy things coming at you!  Most of you come to your dental appointment looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the amazingly fresh and clean feeling you have when you leave.  Today I want to share what an ultrasonic scaler is, the benefits and reasons it’s used, and the 3 different types.  This is going to be really exciting so hang on!

An ultrasonic scaler is a power driven scaler used by your hygienist during many types of dental cleanings.  I use them!  These scalers vibrate at a high frequency and some have linear tip movement.  The vibrations and movements from the ultrasonic scaler crush calculus, disrupt bacteria and biofilm, and remove stain.  There is a water spray during application which cools the instrument.  The water spray also acts as a lavage to remove bacteria and biofilm and helps promote healing of deep pockets >4mm.  The ultrasonic scaler was introduced in the late 1950’s but has been revolutionized by rapidly changing technology.  The scaler has improved dental treatment outcomes and has enhanced patient comfort.  And we all know patient comfort is key.

There are many benefits to ultrasonic scaling during your dental cleaning.  You can benefit from the ultrasonic scaler if you have gum disease, heavy stain, heavy calculus behind your lower front teeth, are sensitive to the pressure of hand scaling, and even if you have braces. If you have periodontal pockets the scaler penetrates deep down while causing minimal tissue distention. It cleans the roots of teeth using less pressure.  The vibrations are softer and gentler to the tooth structure while removing heavy stain, calculus and plaque.  The cooling spray facilitates healing with a water lavage that removes bacteria and biofilm.  Inflamed tissues from braces will also see and feel the benefits.  Ultrasonic scaling will leave your teeth feeling smooth and clean.

OK – for all my science and engineer geeks!  Ultrasonic scalers are categorized in three types.  Sonic, magnetostrictive, or piezoelectric.  Sonic scalers operate at 3,000 to 8,000 cycles/second via compressed air to cause vibration.  Magnetostrictive scalers operate at 18,000 to 45,000 cycles/second with electrical current passing over a stack of metal strips.  Piezoelectric scalers operate at 25,000 to 50,000 cycles/second with electricity passing over crystals in the handpiece.  All three types have specially designed tips to reach all areas of your teeth like a hand instrument would.  You can rest assure that Dr. Tenaglia and your hygienist have kept up on the latest technology to provide you with the best possible ultrasonic instruments. We have found that the Magnetostrictive scalers give the best results for your patients.

Our goal is to determine the best possible way to clean your teeth while making you as comfortable as possible in the process.  We can pair the ultrasonic cleaning with hand instruments to provide the highest degree of efficacy.  So sit back and enjoy your cleaning and know that we have your best oral health interest in our hands!

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