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Do You Polish First?

When I'm assessing clinicians who polish, one standard recommendation I have is to try polishing first.


In my experience, it is a more ergonomic and efficient way to serve our patients.


When we polish first, we:

  • Remove plaque and stain before we begin scaling, which cuts way down on our time in the mouth

  • Reduce repetitive motions when scaling because we simply don't have to scale as much.



If you aren't used to this, you may think, "What if the patient doesn't like it?"

Put simply, we must do what is right for us, regardless of the patient's preference. Also, once you explain the WHY behind this, patients will understand immediately.

Here is some verbiage I hope you will find helpful.

  • "I am going to polish first this time, then will go back through with my instruments."

  • "I am polishing first because the polish is much more efficient at removing the soft plaque, food, and stain than my instruments. Once I'm done polishing, then I focus on the hard deposits with my instruments."

  • "Polishing first cuts down on the time you're in the chair, it makes it easier on both of us."

If the patient wants that minty fresh feeling after you're done scaling, give them some mouth rinse and they'll be happy!

I don't recommend polishing twice just to please the patient as this is unnecessary abrasion that could compromise their enamel, I promise, just give them some rinse.

I also recommend using a cordless polisher. We don't realize how heavy the cord is and how much it pulls on us. Whether we know it or not, we are fighting the cord which can hurt our hand, wrist, and arm. I started using one a couple years ago and I'll never go back.

Do you find yourself constantly wiping saliva and polish off the prophy angle while polishing? Try an anti-splatter prophy angle. These make polishing quicker and more efficient, not to mention no more saliva and polish flying everywhere (including onto you)!

Consider the amount of time we polish over the span of a week, month, or year. We want to be sure we're as ergonomic as possible.

I hope you'll give this a try!


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