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Cochrane Evidence: Useful, Usable and Used – Routine scale and polish for periodontal health in adults

Posted on 11th April 2014 by

Learning Resources
dentist chair

A scale and polish (or oral prophylaxis) is a common component of a dental check-up appointment. The rationale behind scale and polish treatments is that the regular removal of calculus (tartar) and plaque may help prevent the development of periodontal (gum) disease, a major cause of tooth loss. Every year millions of patients attend a dentist, hygienist or therapist for routine scale and polish, even though they may be at low risk of developing periodontal disease. Currently there is debate over the effectiveness of these treatments and, if effective, how often they should be carried out.

I was interested in learning more about the effects of routine scale and polish treatment not just as a public health researcher, but as a dentist and a patient. I wanted to know how much benefit (or even harm) routine scale and polishing offered, so that I could communicate this evidence to my patients whilst discussing treatment options. Also, since providing routine scale and polish treatment to a large population requires considerable public resources, I was interested in finding out more about the optimal delivery of this intervention and the evidence base behind it.

Anwen’s Prezi won first prize in the Cochrane UK & Ireland Annual Symposium 2014 – Student Competition.


Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, Bryan G, Beirne PV. Routine scale and polish for periodontal health in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD004625. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004625.pub4.


Anwen Cope

Anwen Cope is a President's Research Scholar at Cardiff University. She graduated from Cardiff University School of Dentistry in 2009, and has since worked in both the hospital and general dental services. She is currently completing her PhD which seeks to understand how antibiotics are used in the management of acute dental problems by dental and medical primary care providers. View more posts from Anwen

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No Comments on Cochrane Evidence: Useful, Usable and Used – Routine scale and polish for periodontal health in adults

  • Shelagh Thompson

    Excellent work, well done Anwen

    10th July 2014 at 1:13 pm
    Reply to Shelagh

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