I have had three cleanings with a magnetostrictive ultrasonic cleaner and had both upper lateral incisors with veneers fracture within days of the clean. How common is this? Is one type of scaler more likely to fracture teeth than others. What companies manufacture this equipment?
– Peter Andrew Grant
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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Comment by Dr. Hall,
There are two types of ultrasonic scalers – piezoelectric and magnetostrictive. The company that makes the most popular magnetostrictive scaler is Dentsply and the machine is called a Cavitron. It is the original ultrasonic scaler and has been around for decades. While in some ways it is gentler than the piezoelectric scaler, it is more technique sensitive in that it has greater potential for damaging your teeth or your dental work. In the hands of the right hygienist, it should not cause any problems with your veneers. I addressed this in my post, Is the Cavitron safe for porcelain veneers.
What I address in that post is the possibility of chipping the margins of the veneer. But you had your veneers crack, or rather fracture. To get that to happen, I’m guessing that the hygienist would have to use the tip of the scaler on the surface of the porcelain, which would be a big no-no. These ultrasonic scalers are great tools when used properly. When not used properly it might be more appropriate to call them weapons.
I wouldn’t stay in a dental office where the hygienist caused damage like this. He or she needs to be in complete control of the instrument and aware of the damage it could cause. Other significant damage from an improperly used ultrasonic scaler would be creating nicks or rough areas in the roots of the teeth which will end up attracting plaque and calculus and, over the years, could lead to gum disease or decay.
For a comparison of piezoelectric and magnetostrictive scalers, I cite a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology comparing piezoelectric and magnetostrictive scalers which concluded that the magnetostrictive scaler, while it took longer, left the root surface smoother.
Another excellent article that interprets these results in a more understandable way is found in a site for dental hygienists.
See also my page that has a list of things a dental hygienist needs to do to properly care for your porcelain veneers. My advice, if you have veneers, is to have even your maintenance done at an office that has an emphasis on esthetic dentistry because they will train their hygienists in these points.
– Dr. Hall
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