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Dental Hygiene/dental hygienist and ultrasonic scalers


The last couple of times I have had my teeth cleaned the hygienist has used an ultrasonic scaler, as opposed to the several previous time where she used hand scalers. Why has there been a shift in this shift? Also I hate the way the ultrasonic scaler feels and the high pitched sounds it makes. What is the best way to ask the hygienist to not use it on me?

Hi Patrick,
There shouldn't be any problem with your hygienist no matter how you tell her you prefer hand instruments.  I would bet she hears that several times a week.

However if i were your hygienist, before I switched I would try to convince you to stick with the ultrasonics.  I would explain to you that both decay and gum disease are bacterial infections.  I would explain that the ultrasonic machine is our best tool for prevention of these diseases and that is your most important reason for getting your teeth cleaned.  I would even try head phones with music to cut out the sound.  I would use a lower power setting on the machine to cut out any discomfort.  I'll bet your hygienist could do any of these things if you wished.  

If you aren't at high risk for gum disease or decay, it probably doesn't make any difference which you choose.   You can easily request either way you want.

If you would like any more information concerning the superiority of ultrasonics over hand instruments it would be easy for me to send you some articles on the subject.

This superiority of ultrasonics should answer your question of "why the shift"?


Larry Burnett DDS  

Dental Hygiene

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Larry Burnett DDS


I can answer questions about prevention, elimination of, and non surgical treatment of periodontal diseases and early tooth decay. I can't answer questions concerning dental insurance payments.


Taught hygienists in a major dental hygiene school for about 20 years. Taught hands on courses concerning these categories to Dentists and Hygienists throughout the US and Canada including repeat lectures at the Annual Scientific Sessions of A.D.A. and A.G.D over several years. Personal hands on delivery of preventive hygiene services to disadvantaged children through a mobile school based prevention program.

RDH Magazine, Parkell, Dental India and some places of which I'm not aware.

Medical College of Virginia ( VCU) School of Dentistry.

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