Hesperian Health Guides

Keep Your Scaling Instruments Sharp and Clean

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HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 8: Scaling Teeth > Keep Your Scaling Instruments Sharp and Clean


A sharp scaler bites into tartar better than a blunt one. Sharpen the edge whenever you feel it sliding over the tartar.

DENT Ch8 Page 134-1.png From time to time, feel the cutting edge to be sure it is sharp.

Scrape it against your fingernail. If the cutting edge is not able to cut your nail, it will not be sharp enough to break the tartar free.

Sharpen the cutting edge of the scaler on a fine-grain stone (Arkansas stone). Put a few drops of oil or water on the stone first, so the scaler can slide against it more easily.

Rest your 2nd or 3rd finger against the side of the stone. This is for control.

Rub the cutting edge against the stone. Move it back and forth.

Turn the round scaler as you sharpen it. This helps to keep the scaler’s round shape.
illustration oft the below: sharpening a scaler on a flat stone.

Scalers must be more than clean — they must be sterile. This is because there may be spots of blood on them. Hepatitis (Where There Is No Doctor, page 172) and other diseases can pass from the blood of one person to the blood of another person. See information on how to sterilize.

Your mirror, probe, and canon tweezers do not need sterilization. A disinfectant will clean them. Dry all the instruments with a towel. Then wrap them inside a clean cloth and put them in your scaling kit. They are now ready for use whenever you need them again.

a health worker speaking to a woman in a dental chair.
I have taken off all the hard stuff. Never let it come back!

Remind each person: scaling is not a cure. Rather it is a way of giving her a new start. Only she can give herself the care she needs to keep her gums healthy. You have removed the hard material from her teeth, and if she brushes carefully, the tartar will not return!


This page was updated:19 Feb 2018