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Scrubbing Bubbles for Oral Health

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Dental Instruments
Oh, sure, you’re familiar with the the tools used for your dental cleaning – the spit sucker, the water shooter, the air blower, the dreaded scraper (to use their familiar, not clinical, names)

Then there’s the ultrasonic scaler.

The what?!

Ultrasonic scaler – a tool that can take your typical cleaning to the next level, reducing the need for the scraper or even eliminating it altogether. And when it comes to any stage of gum disease, the ultrasonic scaler may actually be preferred because it may be

  • Significantly more effective than manual instruments in cleaning deeper periodontal pockets.
  • Very effective in cleaning biofilm on root surfaces and within pockets.
  • Able to penetrate deeper into pockets due to streamlined tips and ultimately to reach difficult areas more effectively.
  • Kinder to tooth structure.
  • Quicker to do the same job as manual tools.
  • More comfortable for patients because it requires less pressure to clean.


In addition to these benefits, specific to our office, all of the water that comes out of the ultrasonic scaler is ozonated water. This not only kills gum disease causing bacteria in your mouth, but keeps the water lines inside the ultrasonic device sterilized of harmful bacteria.

Recently, researchers have found that the ultrasonic scaler’s magic may lie in its ability to form tiny “scrubbing” bubbles. The bubble formation, called cavitation, happens around the scaler’s head and is, you might say, instrumental to the cleaning process.

The bubble formation, or cavitation, of water around the head of the scaler was observed using high speed cameras. Scalers of differing power, and head shape, were used and compared to quantify the patterns of cavitation.


The team believe that the methods developed in the study will help to test new instrument designs to maximize cavitation, with the aim of designing ultrasonic scalers that operate without touching the tooth surface. By doing so, the process of teeth cleaning at the dentist would become both less painful and more effective.

You can see video of the bubble formation here. It’s pretty cool. (Scroll down to the bottom of the article.)

While ultrasonic cleanings offer another option in the treatment of periodontal disease, we aren’t likely to rely solely on any one device. Manual scalers will always preform vital functions. And, depending on your dental diagnosis, you may benefit from other periodontal procedures, as well.

  • Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP)

This minimally invasive procedure is designed to stimulate bone regeneration while removing harmful bacteria and diseased tissue from your gums. Learn more.

  • Ozone Therapy

Generally speaking, in periodontal treatment, we use ozone in two forms. As ozonated water, it is flushed below the gum line; as pure oxygen/ozone gas, it’s injected into gum and supporting tissue. Ozone not only disinfects; it promotes oral healing by encouraging blood flow to comprised areas. Learn more.

We know you know dental plaque is the thing you go after with your oral health care tools. After all, it’s the main cause of oral disease.

Plaque forms every 24 hours. If you don’t completely break it up with your cleaning technique, it will harden and turn into stony deposits called calculus. Make no mistake: It’s what you do at home daily that matters most. But even with “mostly effective” cleaning, you can still develop calculus.

Those regular hygiene appointments are for the heavy lifting of that calculus, along with removal of any plaque that lurks behind. Only a variety of advanced tools and techniques can do that in an optimal way, supporting both your oral and whole body health.

Image by Becky Striepe, via Flickr

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