Is scraping plaque off your teeth harmful?

Plaque hardens into tartar, also known as dental calculus if it is not removed by brushing and flossing. Plaque and tartar can only be removed by having them scraped off at a dental cleaning, but you might be tempted to try it yourself. In today’s post, a dentist from Glenferrie Dental Clinic explains why this isn’t a good idea.

The Risks of Do-It-Yourself Plaque Scraping

When you visit your dentist for a tooth cleaning, the dental hygienist cleans your teeth with specialized tools. A dental scaler, also known as a plaque scraper, is one of these tools. The sharp cutting edges of the plaque scraper are used by hygienists to scale the area beneath the gum line and the surface of the teeth, as well as the surfaces of the tooth roots in a process called root planing.

Plaque scrapers are available in some stores and online, but using them yourself is not recommended. Plaque scrapers are sharp, and if used incorrectly, they can cause damage to the delicate gum tissue. Gum tissue trauma is not only painful; it can also result in receding gums, exposing the teeth’s sensitive roots. Your cheeks, tongue, or other soft tissues could be injured by the sharp plaque scraper. Plaque scrapers used incorrectly can also cause infections. Tartar can be accidentally pushed beneath the gumline, causing gum problems.

Removing the Plaque Safely

Plaque scrapers are specialized medical instruments that require years of training to master safely. Dental hygienists must attend college for at least two years to learn how to safely use dental scalers and other tools.

If you’re worried about plaque, make an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can examine your mouth to see if you have plaque, tartar, or any other dental issues that require attention. Plaque can be safely removed by a trained and licensed dentist or dental hygienist if necessary.

While it’s not a good idea to use a plaque scaler at home, there are things you can do at home to keep your teeth healthy in between dental visits. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss once a day.

Plaque removal is necessary for good oral health, but it isn’t a do-it-yourself project. If you’re worried about plaque, be sure to see your dentist and dental hygienist for safe optimal oral healthcare treatment.

How Do Dental Cleaning Tools Work?

During your checkup and professional cleaning at a dental office, the dental care professionals will use small dental tools to scrape off the tartar from your teeth. One end of these small tools is pointed. Some are curved to fit around your teeth’s rounded surfaces. During dental scaling, the plaque is removed from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line.

Plaque removal is critical to the cleaning process. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth, it can cause issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. As the bacteria in plaque feed, they produce acids. These acids break down your tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities and decay. Dental cleanings are great to use if you’re also considering dental fillings as well.


The better you take care of your teeth, the less plaque and tartar will accumulate on them. You should brush your teeth at least twice per day, and floss once, to prevent plaque buildup. Also, be sure to visit your dentist regularly for preventative care and tartar removal. Taking good care of your teeth will keep you healthy in long run.

If you think you may have a dental issue related to plaque or tartar buildup, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. The sooner you get the dental issue addressed, the less damage it’s likely to cause and the easier (and less expensive) it will be to treat.