Whether we are working to polish natural teeth after completing an occlusal adjustment or placing a restoration acquiring the final polish is critical. One of the first things a patient will do is explore what has been done in their mouths. I am amused as they feel around in their own mouths with their tongue, other teeth and sometimes fingers. After watching this for so many years, in an attempt to take some of the discomfort out of it, I invite my patients to engage in this part as we sit them up. As we hand them a mirror we ask for their final seal of approval before the appointment has ended, “take a look for us and make sure to feel around your mouth with your tongue to make sure things feel smooth. You also may want to check your bite one last time. If you find anything that doesn’t feel right please let us know.”
As part of this process we strive to make sure that everything feels and looks as good as possible. One of the most important pieces is the final polish of the teeth. I became acquainted with intra-oral diamond polishing paste as a patient myself. One f the worst feelings was rubbing my teeth together after a dental appointment. Between the missing saliva coating and the coarseness of surfaces that had just been adjusted, it often took a day or more before my teeth felt slick again. At one appointment I mentioned this and we used diamond polishing paste as the last step. It was like a miracle, y teeth felt so smooth and able to glide over one another without the feeling and sound of fingernails on a blackboard. I wasn’t sure what the mechanism was. but I was a fan.
Since that time I have used this as the final step in any appointment where we use a handpiece on a patients teeth. The research that has been done is clear that this is a critical step not only for patient comfort, but to minimize wear of opposing teeth. Studies using SEM have shown that for porcelain following a polishing protocol with an intra-oral system of increasingly smoother points and finishing with diamond polishing paste closely approximates the surface when it has been glazed in an oven. When I add the science to the experience it is a clear winner. The material has a minty taste and after the procedure freshens the patients mouth, and leaves them with the same positive emotions as when they have their teeth polished in hygiene, my mouth is fresh, clean and healthy.