A trip to the dental hygienist for a tooth cleaning or scale and polish is never a fun experience — especially if you've had bad experiences in the past — but skipping those important appointments will only land you in more trouble. Take it from the girl who's had the multiple root canals to prove it.
AirFlow, a new alternative to the traditional scale and polish, cleans and polishes the teeth in much faster time, without any scraping
I didn't take proper care of my teeth in my twenties, and a few years ago it finally came back to bite me (pun intended). I had quite extensive dental work done which was pretty painful, and has left me just a little bit frightened of those biannual visits to the dental hygienist. So, when I heard about AirFlow, a new alternative to the traditional scale and polish that cleans and polishes the teeth in much faster time and without any scraping, I knew I had to try it.
I was invited to visit Dr. Reena Wadia, Specialist Periodontist, to try out her Polish + Perfect treatment, which includes AirFlow. Before she cleaned my teeth, Wadia carried out a full check of my teeth and gums, and gave me personalised advice on how I can continue to improve my dental hygiene (two words: tongue scraper). Then, towards the end of my 45-minute appointment, I settled down for the AirFlow treatment. It uses fine powder particles, compressed air, and water to polish the dental enamel and gum line, rather than using metal tools.
I've had my fair share of traditional scale and polish treatments in the past, and I really don't enjoy them. The uncomfortable, scratchy feeling of metal implements scraping out tartar, the horrible polishing tool which can burn your lips if it accidentally catches them, the water pouring down your chin, and the general discomfort of lying with your mouth open for up to an hour while someone scrapes away . . . let's just say I don't book these appointments in a hurry. AirFlow was over in a flash. It takes minutes, and really does seem to remove stains and build-up painlessly, including along the gum line and around crowns (if you have them). It's actually quite fun: it feels like someone's spraying a very fine, very powerful mist around your mouth, and you can even choose a flavour (I went with cherry). I was really impressed with the speed of the treatment and how fresh my mouth felt afterwards.
It is great for stain removal and cleaning in hard to reach areas such as slightly below the gum line, especially for patients who may not like having the scaler as much.
But could a quick treatment like this really replace a proper hygienist visit? Dr. Milad Shadrooh, Principal Dentist and owner of Chequers Dental, says, "I think that Air Flow is a very useful tool to have in the clinic, it is something that hygienists will use quite a lot. It is great for stain removal and cleaning in hard to reach areas such as slightly below the gum line, especially for patients who may not like having the scaler as much." However, he did note that it can't work miracles, explaining, "If you haven't been to the dentist in a very long time and you have a lot of hardened tartar build up, then the airflow won't really help to get rid of those hard deposits. However, if you go to your hygiene appointments regularly and just have a bit of plaque build up then the Air Flow is a great tool which works really well."
So that means those of us who do get tartar build-up may not be completely free of those scary metal scalers, but AirFlow is a great way to keep teeth clean and polished, and to build back your confidence when it comes to visiting the dentist. At present it's mostly offered as a private treatment, which means it comes at a cost, but given how quick and effective it is, I don't think it'll be long before similar options are available through more NHS dentists too. I don't think I've ever felt so confident in the dentist chair before, and I left with teeth that looked and felt cleaner, but without that scratchy feel that follows a scale and polish.
The Polish + Perfect treatment with Dr. Wadia at her London clinic takes 45 minutes and costs £250.