Photomicrographs of the surfaces of recently extracted teeth stained with erythrosin dye were obtained. The stained surfaces were treated with an ultrasonic scaler using two different types of scaling tips driven by the same instrument operated at a medium power setting. Small areas of stained plaque removal occurred when the stationary scaling tip was operated without water cooling. Additional areas of removal were observed where a water coolant was present, which were larger than those produced by the non-water cooled tip. These additional areas were influenced by the type of scaling tip used, it's orientation to the tooth surface and it's displacement amplitude. Cavitational activity in the cooling water supply of the ultrasonic scaler is able to remove dental plaque from tooth surfaces and may be a useful adjunct to the mechanical action of the instrument.