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Helping Your Patients Reduce Stain

The polishing of natural teeth and restorations is integral to the standard prophylaxis performed by dental hygienists. While the factors involved in stain accumulation have changed, patients still desire the clean, smooth feeling provided by polishing at the end of the dental hygiene appointment. Dental hygienists should be well versed in the causes behind staining, the correlation between oral pH and dental erosion, and appropriate polishing choices for different patient types. As the typical American lifestyle has undergone much change over the past few decades, so has the status of tooth discoloration. Dietary and social habits greatly impact dental stain accumulation. Smoking tobacco/marijuana and chewing or dipping tobacco obviously affect extrinsic stain formation, but chemical agents may also play a role in the complexity of stain buildup. The use of stannous fluoride, antibiotics, and chlorhexidine, as well as exposure to iron in drinking water impact the color and intensity of extrinsic stain. Dietary changes include an increase in the amount and frequency of consumption of stain-producing and acidic beverages, such as coffee, tea, wine, and sports drinks.

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Some composite materials are more susceptible to stain.

stained vs clean tooth comparison graphic Katerina Sisperova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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The abrasive action of toothpaste removes superficial stain on dental surfaces but does not change the color of the teeth.

toothbrush and toothpaste Antonistock / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Which of the following affects the abrasiveness of polishing agents?

3d graphic of tooth cleaning alex-mit / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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A smaller particle size will be more abrasive than a larger particle agent.

Handpiece with professional polishing brush. alex-mit / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Which of the following may be used for supragingival polishing?

sea salt, starch in the jar EKramar / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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In addition to the physical properties of air polishing agents, optimum application is essential to minimizing the risk of structural damage.

Micro motor dental polisher rendeep / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Dental hygienists may consider the benefits of augmenting polishing procedures with subgingival air polishing irrigation to offer stain removal benefits along with biofilm removal benefits.

dentist cleaning teeth of woman Igor-Kardasov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Helping Your Patients Reduce Stain
Not bad, but there’s room to grow when it comes to understanding how to help your patients reduce stain. Consider reading more about this important facet of dental hygiene care. Good luck!
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Congrats! You understand the importance of helping your patients reduce stain. Get out there and put your know-how to good use!

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This information is from the article “Stain Removal With Polishing” by Sharon L. Mossman, RDH, EdD. To read the article, click here.

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