Is it Safe to Use a Plaque Scraper at Home? A Dentist’s Advice

Is it Safe to Use a Plaque Scraper at Home? A Dentist’s Advice
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Is it Safe to Use a Plaque Scraper at Home? A Dentist’s AdviceClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Are Plaque Scrapers Safe to Use
  2. How to Use a Scraper Properly
  3. Top Scraper Brands
  4. References

Plaque is a sticky film that forms on everybody’s teeth. While what you eat plays a role in its development, plaque begins to form when the natural bacteria in your mouth get mixed with sweet, sugary foods and drinks or starch-rich food items like bread, rice and other grains.

Left unchecked, plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which can be difficult to remove effectively at home and on your own. In fact, keeping tartar from forming is one reason that you should be vigilant about seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

The one key tool your dentist uses to remove plaque from your teeth is called a scaler, or a plaque scraper. With it, your dentist can scrape the plaque off the surfaces of your teeth so that it doesn’t have a chance to harden into problematic tartar.

Although we tend to think of scrapers as tools with a flat face, similar to a putty knife, oral scrapers are actually sharp, hook-like instruments that your dental hygienist uses manually. More recently, manufacturers developed hand-held ultrasonic models that utilize vibrations to help loosen plaque and tartar. These new instruments are increasingly common in dental practices.

In addition, dental product companies and inventors have gone to the retail market with inexpensive scrapers to reach consumers directly. More and more people are buying over-the-counter plaque scrapers in lieu of visiting the dentist or out of vigilance to keep their teeth clean.

Are Plaque Scrapers Safe to Use on Your Own?

Plaque scrapers are popping up more and more in drug and grocery stores, leading well-intentioned shoppers to pick one up on their way to the checkout line. The problem is that you simply don’t have the skills to use one properly if you’re not a dentist.

That’s because most plaque scrapers are extremely sharp instruments designed to help remove every bit of plaque from your teeth. In the wrong hands though, a plaque scraper could cause gum irritation or damage, lead to scratches in your dental enamel or cause infection if you push plaque and tarter beneath your gum line instead of removing it.

Injuring your cheeks, lips and tongue is also possible. If you’re considering using a plaque scraper at home, make sure your dentist has approved it and shown you the correct procedure for your dental health needs.

Even though plaque needs to be removed as part of your oral hygiene treatment, it should never be attempted at home, and plaque scraping should always be done by a dental professional.

How to Use a Scraper Properly

Using a plaque scraper is usually best left to your dentist. In rare circumstances, your dentist may advise you that certain tasks can be done with a plaque scraper safely at home.

However, you’ll need to work with your dentist or a hygienist to learn the routine that’s best for you. If you don’t, you could risk damaging your teeth, hurting your gums or creating other problems in your mouth.

In most cases, your dentist will recommend that you start at the base of your gum line and guide the sharp tip between your teeth to scrape away plaque. In this way, you’re using a plaque scraper much like dental floss.

In general, you’re better off sticking to regular dental floss, a water-based dental pick or an interdental brush when it comes to your at-home dental care routine. Antibacterial and plaque-reducing mouthwashes can also be very helpful without the risks of a sharp plaque scraper.

Top Scraper Brands

Plaque scrapers are easy for a consumer to find, though most dentists and hygienists typically won’t advise you to use one on your own. If your dentist does recommend one for at-home use, ask them what model you should consider buying to fit your dental health goals.

If you do end up shopping for a new plaque scraper, you’ll find no shortage of branded models with the logos of various manufacturers, many of which make other dental products like toothpaste and toothbrushes. Store-branded plaque scrapers and dental care products are also available.

Top brands include:

  • PERSMAX Calculus Cleaner and Ultrasonic Cleaning Kit
  • SonicBrush + Calculus and Plaque Remover Kit
  • Safco 204 Scaler Hand Tool
  • Dentek Professional Oral Care Kit

Caring for your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need sharp plaque scrapers or costly ultrasonic tools that are better off in a dentist’s office than on your vanity to take care of your teeth either.

Reach out to today to learn more about proper dental care and schedule an appointment with a dentist. When it comes to overall dental health, nothing beats a professional cleaning and check-up.

References

Oral Health: Brush Up on Dental Basics. (June 2019). Mayo Clinic. Date fetched: August 19, 2021.

How to Scale Teeth. (January 2021). Hesperian Health Guides. Date fetched: August 19, 2021.

Dental Plaque. (October 2020). Cleveland Clinic. Date fetched: August 19, 2021.

Caring for My Teeth and Gums. Oral Health Foundation. Date fetched: August 19, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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