Supra- and subgingival polishing transform preventive care

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Our role as dental hygienists includes preventing the progression of disease. Traditionally, we remove periodontal pathogens and biofilm both subgingivally and supragingivally through hand and ultrasonic oscillation. However, removing calculus and biofilm through debridement, repeated instrumentation with hand and ultrasonic technologies can cause gingival recession and loss of tooth structure. Air polishing technology empowers hygienists to effectively remove more bacteria with a reduced risk of gingival trauma.1

Traditionally, polishing is performed with a rubber cup with the intention of removing stain and biofilm. Despite efforts to selectively polish, traditionally removing stain with a cup and prophy cup can lead to abrasion of the tooth.2

Alternatively, air polishing removes tenacious stain and bacteria without adverse effects. Air polishing is a technology that utilizes a jet of compressed air and water to deliver a controlled stream of powder through the handpiece nozzle to remove biofilm.1 Solo air polishing units are typically attached to the handpiece connection on the dental unit. The average water psi on the unit is 10-15, with an air pressure of 60 psi, allowing the unit to dispense a pressure of 58-60 psi.2 The pressure and site-specific powders enable clinicians to remove stain and biofilm in less time with minimal effort. “Air polishing can produce uniformly smooth root surfaces and remove 100% of bacteria and/or bacterial endotoxins from cementum.”1