Background: Sonic scalers have an elliptical and piezoceramic ultrasonic scalers a linear oscillation pattern. Thus, a sonic scaler "hammers" the tooth surface, irrespective of its alignment to the tooth, whereas a piezoceramic ultrasonic scaler may oscillate parallel to the tooth surface and gently remove calculus if the alignment is correct. The aim of this study was to measure pain on a visual analogue scale (VAS) during removal of supragingival calculus on mandibular incisors with a sonic or an ultrasonic scaler.
Material and methods: Seventy-four periodontally healthy subjects with supragingival calculus on the mandibular incisors were treated with both a sonic and a piezoceramic ultrasonic scaler in a split-mouth design. The sequence of instrument application and allocation of instruments to jaw side were randomized. Patient comfort was assessed with a VAS after treatment.
Results: The VAS results did not show any difference between the two instrumentation modalities.
Conclusion: For calculus removal during prophylaxis the type of power-driven instrument does not seem to have an impact on perceived pain. This means that the oscillation pattern does not influence the pain experience.