Purpose: To determine how the currently available techniques of scaling and root planing, used either alone or with additional polishing techniques, affect the substance thickness and surface roughness of enamel and cementum.
Materials and methods: After extraction, impacted third molars were prepared and subjected to air polishing with a nonabrasive powder, ultrasonic scaling, or hand instrumentation. All three techniques were performed alone and in combinations for a total of 9 treatment groups. The control group consisted of untreated surfaces. Optical microcoordination measurements were conducted to separately assess substance loss, mean roughness depth (Rz), and roughness average (Ra) on enamel and cementum. The Rz results were analysed using a t-test for paired samples.
Results: Air polishing alone and with additional rubber-cup polishing using a paste were the only two approaches which caused no enamel loss. Both groups also entailed less cementum loss (≤ 20 μm) than any of the other seven groups, and both yielded the most favorable Rz results on enamel. Air polishing alone was the only group to reveal no significant change in Rz from untreated cementum (p = 0.999). The other 8 approaches statistically significantly reduced the surface roughness of cementum (p ≤ 0.017).
Conclusion: Air polishing with a nonabrasive powder yielded the best hard-tissue preservation. Combining any of the scaling techniques with additional polishing was not beneficial; on the contrary, they caused even more abrasion of hard tissue on both enamel and cementum.
Keywords: cementum; enamel; hand instruments; substance loss; surface roughness; ultrasonic air polishing.