The Dangers of Using a Plaque Scraper at Home

When you visit your dentist's office for a cleaning, the dental hygienist uses specialized tools to clean your teeth. One of these tools is a dental scaler, also called a plaque scraper. You may have seen these tools for sale at your local store.

How These Dental Cleaning Tools Work

These metal tools have sharp cutting edges that dental hygienists use to remove plaque and tartar from teeth. During dental scaling, plaque is removed from the tooth surface and underneath the gumline. Hygienists might also scale the surfaces of the roots – a process known as root planing – to smooth the area and remove plaque and stain.

Removing plaque is important. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth, it can cause problems like gum disease and tooth decay. The bacteria in the plaque release acids as they feed, and these acids break down the tooth enamel. These acids can also lead to gum disease. However, while plaque needs to be removed, it shouldn't be done at home. It should be done by a dental professional, a dental hygienist or dentist.

Dangers of DIY Plaque Scraping

Although plaque scrapers are widely available in stores, it's not a good idea to use them yourself. These tools are specialized medical tools and it takes training to learn how to use them safely. Dental hygienists must attend college or university to receive their degree, and most of these programs take at least two years to complete, explains the American Dental Association. This extensive training ensures that dental hygienists know how to use dental scalers and other tools safely.

Because plaque scrapers are sharp, improper use can damage the delicate gum tissue. Trauma to the gum tissue isn't just painful, it can also cause gum recession. This means that the gum tissue lowers and exposes the sensitive roots of the teeth. The sharp plaque scraper could also cause injuries to your cheeks, tongue, or other soft tissues.

Infections may also occur as a result of improper use of plaque scrapers. Tartar can be accidentally pushed under the gumline, and this can lead to gum issues.

Removing Plaque Safely

If you're concerned about plaque, visit your dentist. Your dentist can examine your mouth to determine if you have plaque, tartar or other dental problems that need to be addressed. If necessary, plaque can be removed safely by a trained and licensed dental hygienist.

While it's not a good idea to use a plaque scaler at home, there are things you can do at home to keep your teeth healthy in between dental visits. Floss once daily, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and Colgate Total Advanced Deep Cleantoothpaste, which fights germs for 12 hours and helps to maintain a dentist-clean feeling with advanced-cleaning silica similar to what dentists use.

Plaque removal is important for good oral health, but it's not a DIY project. If you're worried about plaque, be sure to see your dentist and dental hygienist for safe optimal oral healthcare treatment.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.