370 E South Temple, Ste 325 Salt Lake City, UT 84111

When you go to the dentist, most of the time your appointments are likely for the standard exam and cleaning. These visits tend to follow the same pattern: x-rays, removing any plaque and tartar that has accumulated since your last appointment, and polishing your teeth before the dentist examines you. Have you ever wondered about the purpose of polishing before?

What Does Polishing Do?

If you polish something, the goal is typically to leave it smooth and shining. That’s essentially what polishing teeth is intended to do. Smoothing and shining the teeth isn’t enough on its own to prevent gum disease, but polishing can help reduce plaque buildup in combination with other cleaning procedures. It can also help remove surface stains, enhancing the beauty of your teeth.

How Does Polishing Work?

Polishing is most commonly done with a small, soft rubber cup and polishing paste. Pastes can have a fine, medium, or coarse grit. The more coarse the grit, the more effective the paste will be at removing surface stains. The finer the grit, the more highly finished the polish will be. Finer grits also run less of a risk of roughing up the enamel too much. The paste is applied to the rubber cup, which then is used to rub the paste over the surface of the teeth.

Alternatively, teeth may be air polished. This process uses jets of water and air along with an abrasive agent to get rid of surface stains. Its effectiveness rivals the cup and paste method with less risk to the enamel.

Is Polishing Safe?

Tooth polishing is considered quite safe for just about everyone. Patients with oral issues like cavities, exposed roots, sensitivity, or receding gums should have those problems addressed prior to polishing. Depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, it may be better to use a finer paste to polish the teeth. That’s usually the only constraint on polishing though.

Unlike some of the other parts of a dental cleaning and exam, polishing may not have an immediately obvious practical purpose to some people. That can lead to questions about that part of the tooth-cleaning process. Remember, if you have other questions about polishing or any other part of the cleaning and exam, Dr. Updike is more than happy to answer them for you.

Here at South Temple Dental, we do a whole lot more than just polishing your teeth to help keep them clean and healthy. Click here to learn more about our cleaning process and its benefits.