Scale and polish

A scale and polish can be done by your dentist or hygienist.

Often an ultrasound water scaler is used first to get rid of the bulk of the tartar, followed by specialised hand-held instruments to scrape away any stubborn remains.

The next step is to ‘polish’ the teeth to make the surface really smooth. While polishing removes stains leaving teeth bright and shiny, it is not just a cosmetic procedure. It also smooth’s away minor imperfections and patches of rough texture on the teeth to protect against further plaque build-up.


Your dentist/hygienist will advise you how often you should have a scale and polish but is usually recommended at 6 monthly intervals. It’s important to remember that professional cleaning is an addition to a good daily oral health routine and should never replace twice daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.

What to expect at a scale and polish?

Gum disease is often caused by a build-up of plaque bacteria, the best way to remove this is by twice daily tooth brushing. But no matter how well you clean your teeth there will always be hard to reach areas that are tricky to keep clean. In these areas, plaque bacteria can accumulate and may eventually mineralise to form a tough, crusty deposit called calculus or tartar, which is impossible to remove by brushing alone. If not removed, more plaque can build up around the tooth and potentially under the gum line, leading to the progression of gum disease.

To reduce the risk of gum disease or to help stop it from becoming more serious, your dentist may recommend that you have a professional clean, called a scale and polish, to get your teeth properly clean.