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Can someone describe what burnished calculus feels like?

I’m so embarrassed. I’ve been a hygienist for a little over two years and I’m not 100% sure what burnished calculus feels like. I never burnished calculus in school so I never felt it or had to remove it. I assume it feels like a flat rough spot? Can you only remove it with files or will the Cavitron on a very high setting remove it too?

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1 Answer

No need to be embarrassed! Burnished calculus, especially along the CEJ is often so smooth that it is almost impossible to detect with an explorer. If you rotate the tip of an explorer and feel up and down with the point, you can sometimes detect a grainy texture. Sometimes you can feel the coronal edge of the burnished calculus sheet with the point of the explorer on the down stroke in the apical direction but not on the up stroke in the coronal direction. A good indicator of burnished calculus is if there is bleeding on probing with roughness along the CEJ. Using an ultrasonic at a high power is actually more likely to burnish calculus than to remove it. So keep your ultrasonic at a medium power and use great technique as far as adaptation with short, overlapping strokes. Also, to remove it make sure you are using sharp instruments with the blade-to-tooth adaptation not too “closed” because that can burnish calculus too. Again, there are more indicators than just using an explorer. My hygiene school instructors always said, “Read the gingiva.” So even if you can’t necessarily feel it, look for bleeding and inflammation. With time it will get easier, be patient with yourself!

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