Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

August 5, 2015

Is the Cavitron safe for use with porcelain veneers?

Dr. Hall,
I just had my first dental cleaning with my new veneers….placed by a cosmetic dentist recommended on your website. The tool used to clean was called a “cavitron.” It seemed to shoot out a lot of water while cleaning the teeth. I’m assuming that this is safe because this is a very good dentist, but after reading your website, I got nervous. Can you let me know if the cavitron is ok, not too harsh on the porcelain…
Thank you for this excellent website.
– Anna from Connecticut

Yes, the Cavitron is an ultrasonic scaler, and in my advice for care of porcelain veneers I have written a caution about that, that an ultrasonic scaler can chip the margins of porcelain veneers. It’s not the water that is the cause for concern, but the metal tip that vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency. But thanks to your bringing this to my attention, I have gone over this advice to update it. After some additional years of experience with these machines, I’m going to soften that advice somewhat. Ultrasonic scalers like the Cavitron have gotten very popular with dental hygienists and I believe that most quality offices are now using them. I believe that if hygienists are skillful in using them, are smooth in their motions and don’t dwell on the margin area, that they are fine. So where I used to list ultrasonic scalers as unsafe to use with porcelain veneers I’m going to say now that in the hands of a good hygienist you should be fine.

These ultrasonic scalers are powerful and they not only have the potential to nick the margins of porcelain restorations, but they can nick the cementum of teeth, causing a roughness that will attract plaque and calculus. But I have had the opportunity to observe closely in the past few years at three dental offices where the hygienists have used ultrasonic scalers, and they have all been excellent with them, to where I really don’t think there is a risk of damaging the porcelain.

The two absolute no-no for dental hygienists in maintaining porcelain veneers are no Prophy Jet and no acidulated fluoride treatments. The Prophy Jet sprays an abrasive at the teeth at high pressure and it will destroy the glaze on porcelain veneers. This isn’t a risk, it’s a certainty. And acidulated fluoride will etch the surface of the veneers causing similar though milder damage.

Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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