Root planing and scaling cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots. Some dentists and dental hygienists will use an ultrasonic tool for the planing and scaling because this technique is not as uncomfortable as a standard scraping tool. Here’s how it works:
- The tip of the scaler is thin. When held against the tooth, sound waves bounce off the tooth and cause the tartar and plaque to break up.
- The sound waves work so well that even hardened plaque breaks up.
- The water coming from the scaler then washes the broken debris away.
- The tip of the scaler does not damage the enamel of the tooth as traditional hand-scaling methods can. Using only the vibrations from the scaler, patients can expect a painless process.
Researchers also are studying the use of ultrasonic waves to detect cavities and other tooth problems in the place of X-rays. Ultrasounds would be able to detect cavities, decay and fractures and early stage abscesses. These ultrasonic waves also are particularly sensitive to detecting tooth cracks and other dental problems that are difficult to interpret from X-ray images.
So as we wait for the next way to use ultrasound, take advantage of the technology we have now!