If you have stained or discoloured teeth, a visit to your dentist may help you clean up your teeth and get them looking brighter and whiter. While a professional clean and scale may help you eliminate some staining, this type of cleaning may not get rid of all types of stains. In some cases, your dentist may talk to you about using a microabrasion process. What's the difference between the two options? 

Stains Suited to a Clean and Scale

A clean and scale is a routine dental procedure that helps keep your teeth and gums healthy and looking good. Your dentist is likely to recommend that you have this kind of treatment regularly as part of your overall dental hygiene routine. According to HIF, the frequency that you should have a professional clean depends on the condition of your teeth and your lifestyle. For example, your dentist may recommend a clean anything between every three months and two years.

This type of professional clean primarily targets external staining on your teeth, plaque and tartar. When you have your teeth cleaned and scaled, they effectively get a deeper clean than you can manage with your everyday dental routine. For example, during a clean and scale your dentist may use ultrasonic or air abrasion techniques to break off plaque that has hardened into tartar on your teeth as well as scaler tools to scrape off deposits before giving you a final polish.

After a professional clean, your teeth will look better and will be put into a healthier state. For example, your dentist can remove stains on your teeth that are caused by food, drink and lifestyle habits such as smoking, according to HIF. According to Colgate, tartar on your teeth is typically a yellow or brown colour; it also picks up stains easily. Removing this deposit during a scale may also restore your teeth to their natural whiteness. Plus, removing plaque and tartar from your teeth and gum lines helps prevent future problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Stains Suited to Microabrasion

While a clean and scale can fix a lot of surface staining, it won't work on stains that are contained inside your teeth. If you have internal staining that sits in the top layers of your enamel, such as staining caused by an excessive intake of fluoride or certain types of antibiotics in your childhood, your dentist may talk to you about using microabrasion to remove the stains.

Although microabrasion removes stains, it is a dental treatment rather than a clean. During the treatment your dentist uses an acid paste to abrade away the top layers of enamel from your tooth, according to the Better Health Channel. This removes stains and discolouration that are contained in these top layers of your tooth at a level that a clean and scale cannot reach.

Bear in mind that microabrasion won't necessarily work on all kinds of internal staining. For example, it may not be able to deal with deeper stains in a tooth that go beyond the surface enamel. These types of stains may require a different type of treatment. For example, you can talk to your dentist about internal bleaching to whiten the stain from the inside out or about options that cover the stain such as bonding, veneers or crowns.