Many dentists have opted to use ultrasonic scalers in lieu of traditional hand scalers, and they have quickly become a go-to tool in the fight against gum disease. This not only means that dentists can clean teeth faster and more effectively, but patients are also more comfortable. Ultrasonic scalers look like old fashioned dental tools, but differ in that they clean below the gumline using a stream of water (or antibiotic solution) that can be adjusted according to the sensitivity of the patient. Many assumed that the extra cleaning power came from the streaming water, but researchers have recently discovered that, while close, that is not quite the case.

woman having her teeth inspected

Bubbles Do The Heavy Lifting

We all have seen advertisements for home cleaners that use bubbles to help break down filth and grime. It seems like the same principle applies to cleaning your teeth as well. Researchers at the University of Birmingham have discovered that the effectiveness of ultrasonic cleaners actually lies with the amount of cavitation, or bubble formation, around the tip of the instrument.

For the study, “a Satelec ultrasonic scaler, operating at 29 kHz with three different shaped tips, was operated at medium and high power using high speed imaging at 15,000, 90,000 and 250,000 frames per second, and the tip displacement was recorded using scanning laser vibrometry.” They found that the amount of cavitation increased according to the power, and that the area and width of the bubble field changed when different shaped tips were used. The amount of biofilm, a key cause of periodontal disease, decreased as the amount of bubbles increased. Using this information, scientists can create an ultrasonic scaler that does not make contact with your teeth or gums, rendering the process virtually painless.

Of course, in the hands of a skilled hygienist, manual cleaning is also virtually painless, especially if you’re making your dental visits regularly and practice good oral hygiene to reduce the amount of tartar buildup. .

A Clean Only Possible From a Dentist

Regularly visiting the dentist is key if you want to avoid periodontal disease. A regular cleaning from your dentist is much less intrusive, causes less discomfort, and costs much less than other procedures such as dental implants or root canals. Drs. Messer, Belous, and Geminiani also offer sedation dentistry for those patients who get squeamish at the thought of a simple cleaning. If you live in the Rochester area and are in need of a cleaning, or if you have any questions, please give us a call at (585) 244-3337.