Run your tongue on the surface of your teeth when you wake up in the morning. The slippery coating that you feel on your teeth is plaque, which is a layer produced by bacteria in your mouth that helps them attach to surfaces so that they can thrive. These bacteria reacts with sugar and carbohydrates to produce acid that damages your teeth, both the enamel surface and the roots, resulting in decay and gum diseases. Therefore, it is important to brush and floss regularly to remove plaque and neutralise the acid present.

However, when plaque has hardened over time in areas that were less accessible by brushing, it is known as tartar. Tartar, also known as calculus, can only be removed by your dentist through a process called scaling.

Scaling is a simple, quick and gentle procedure where the dentist uses a scaler or curette to remove the tartar that has formed on and in between your teeth. An ultrasonic instrument or laser may also be used to send vibrations to break down large and stubborn tartar deposits. Throughout the procedure, water jets may be aimed at the tartar to soften it or to flush off the debris that have been scaled off. You will be asked to rinse your mouth regularly to expel the removed tartar. The process is painless, although there may be brief instances of sensitivity if the tip of the device comes into contact with the gums while removing tartar close to the root of the teeth.


The surface of the teeth may feel rough after scaling. Polishing will restore the smoothness of your teeth, as well as provide protection to the teeth in the form of fluoride that the dentist will apply as a polishing medium. You can visualise the process to be just like how a car is polished; a fluoride paste is applied on a soft rubbery rotating surface that will go over your teeth to smoothen the surfaces. Your teeth will feel squeaky clean thereafter.

After scaling and polishing, refrain from eating and drinking for 30 minutes.

Why is scaling and polishing important?

If scaling and polishing are not done regularly on schedule, you will be at risk of the following:

    • Periodontal (gum) diseases

Bacteria will continue to build up on accumulated tartar, both on the teeth’s surface and close to the gums. This leads to red, inflamed and swollen gums. If left untreated, the gum weaken to eventually cause loose teeth.

    • Bad breath

Bacteria thriving on plaque and tartar at the gum line is often the cause of bad breath. Constant removal of tartar is necessary to maintain fresh breath.

    • Stained teeth

Tartar build-up becomes thick over time, leaving clumps and stains on your teeth that look unappealing.

Scaling and polishing are recommended every 6 months. Schedule your next session with us for a cleaner, healthier and a more confident smile.