Tooth polishing used to be a standard part of a dental cleaning appointment. The dentists used to smoothen teeth so that plaque and bacteria which cause gingivitis, periodontitis or cavities do not stick to the tooth easily. However, it is now known that within 30 min, the bacteria colonize on the tooth surface irrespective of whether teeth are polished or not. Also, polishing removes the outer layer of tooth enamel, which takes a period of 3 months to rebuild the fluoride-rich layer. Hence, selective polishing is recommended. Each patient should be assessed individually for polishing of teeth. Teeth are polished only if stains are present which scaling was unable to remove. This means that during cleaning procedures either some, all or none of the teeth may be polished.
Currently, the dentists and hygienists have varied options regarding the abrasive/polishing agents and type of polishers used. They can now use different polishers and abrasives based on the patients’ acceptance and condition, thereby providing good care by selectively designing the treatment according to the patients’ need and with minimum concern about the loss of tooth structure.