The Dentist From a Child' Point of View

How Are Dentists Able To Get Rid Of Tartar When Patients Can't At Home?

If you've learned anything about dental health, chances are you know what a problem tartar can be. This sticky, hardened version of plaque can be devastating for oral health, potentially triggering tooth decay and gum disease alike. While it's entirely possible to get rid of plaque at home by flossing, brushing, and/or water flossing, once it hardens into tartar, that all changes. Any tartar that you have on your teeth right now can't be taken care of at home, but it can be in the dentist's chair. If you're curious as to why only dentists and hygienists are able to accomplish this, then here's what you should know.


One of the most traditional methods for removing dental tartar and plaque alike is by using a tool called a scaler. This device is something you've likely seen on the dentist's tray. It's usually entirely metal, with a thin hook on the end that your dentist uses to pick at your teeth.

This hard metal pick is able to break up the tartar, allowing the rest of it to be washed away or removed with gentler dental cleaning devices. You may have seen these scalers for sale in pharmacies or dental aisles, so why can't you just take care of it at home?

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that unlike a dentist or hygienist, you aren't able to get an easy view of your own teeth and gums. Being able to move around to look at your mouth from multiple angles helps them to access the tartar and locate problem spots. This can be very difficult if you're trying to do it yourself with a mirror.

Additionally, scalers can potentially be hazardous to teeth when used without experience. These metal tools are strong enough to damage tooth enamel, so in general, it's not wise for patients to try and use them on their own.

Ultrasonic Scaling

In recent times, many dentists have switched to ultrasonic scalers. This eliminates the need for a dental pick variety scaler, and lets them blast away the tartar with a combination of ultrasonic waves and a stream of water.

Generally, patients don't have access to this kind of technology on their own. For starters, it's usually quite expensive to acquire an ultrasonic scaler that's capable of doing this, and it's usually only sold directly to dentists and medical professionals. While ultrasonic scalers are much more gentle when used on patients, they can still be dangerous if used without adequate experience and knowledge. As a result, it's not a method that patients have available for themselves.

The good news is that a simple dental cleaning at the dentist's office can get rid of your tartar in a flash. While it's a good idea to do everything you can for your dental hygiene at home, just be aware that regular cleanings are the only way you're going to be able to get rid of tartar before it causes problems.

For more information about removing tartar, contact a general dentist in your area.