instructor in the science of dental materials.
Tami authored the lab manual for the science of
dental materials. She speaks on a multitude of
dental hygiene-related topics, predominantly
instrument sharpening and public health issues.
Additionally, Tami is the founder of Sharp
Advantage, a nationwide instrument sharpening
business. When not educating, sharpening,
scaling, or active in professional organizations,
you might find her plotting the next dental
mission trip. Tami is committed to organized
dentistry and quality patient care.
1. Carroll J. (2015, June 01). Exposing one of dentistry’s dirty little secrets. Modern Hygienist.
2. Grunbaum M. (2010, March 22). How do Barnacles attach to Whales? Science Line.
Mosby’s Dental Dictionary: Edition 2. (2007). St.
3. Pattison A. (2011, August 9). Burnished Calculus
at the CEJ. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, p. 74.
4. Roberts-Harry EA, (2000; 28). Subgingival calculus; where are we know? Journal dent, 93-102.
5. Pattison A. Keys to Effective Calculus Removal,
Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. October 2011; 9( 10):
Darby/Walsh; Dental Hygiene theory & Practice; Ed
2; pg. 397
in an effort to support the newest clinical success while locating burnished calculus at the
3. Pick up your posterior explorer (11/12)
and gently search for irregularities. Lighten up
your grasp as if you were holding a fragile piece
of china. Feel for the slightest elevation. You
will not feel a deposit that “clicks”; burnished
calculus will be a smooth, raised bump.
IT WASN’T ME!
Leaving burnished calculus is more common
than you may think. Research supports evidence demonstrating that blind root planing
is effective only to 4 mm. Beyond 4 mm, 30%
to 50% of the subgingival root surface is still
covered with undetectable burnished calculus
(Carroll, 2015). Burnished calculus is more likely
to be found in areas on the root surface with
developmental grooves, depressions, furcations,
and at the cementoenamel junctions.
Dull instruments are a significant cause of
burnished calculus. If a hand instrument is
extremely sharp at the onset of removing the
calculus and it stays sharp, it will eliminate
deposits and not just shave layers away, leaving
burnished bumps. When continued scaling
with a dull edge occurs, the clinician shaves
the deposit and begins to smooth the calculus
without removing all of the bacteria.
• Start by using the sharpest instrument
available for the maximum success in
removing all of the calculus from the start.
I am more effective with deposit removal
using EverEdge2.0 by Hu-Friedy than any
other instrument. I use fewer strokes and
lighter lateral pressure on
the lower anterior areas
these new instru-
ments are that
strong and sharp.
There is less hand
fatigue at the end of
the day and I don’t
need to sharpen nearly
as often, because the
instruments hold a
sharper edge longer. I have
never used any other
instrument that is comparably sharp.
• Another principle for effective
calculus removal is to ensure that
the blade-to-tooth angle is correct.
If the terminal shank of the
instrument is not parallel to the
surface being scaled, then the
angulation is either too open (greater
than 70 degrees) or too closed (less than
70 degrees). To aid in correct angulation,
a visual cue is used to ensure the terminal
shank of the instrument is parallel to the
surface being scaled.
• An incorrect grasp can cause a lack of
sufficient lateral pressure to ensure that
the sharpened blade grabs onto the
calculus. Use a modified pen grasp,
ensuring you have enough space between
your thumb and index finger to allow for
rolling into the line angle areas. Establish
secure, solid fulcrums as close to the
working area as possible.
Avoid burnished calculus and supervised
neglect by using sharp instruments to remove
deposits the first time you scale them. Barnacles on a boat cause drag and slow the vessel
down. Burnished calculus contributes to
chronic disease and overall inadequate systemic health. Be part of your patients’ total
body health solution and not the cause of
chronic disease as they navigate through life’s
Tami Wanless, RDH, MEd, has 27 years of
experience in the dental field with 24 of those
years in both the clinical and educational
arenas. In her current role at College of DuPage,
Tami is a clinical educator, the didactic
instructor for head and neck anatomy and
histology, and the didactic and laboratory
Dull instruments are
a significant cause of
burnished calculus. If
a hand instrument is
extremely sharp at the
onset of removing the
calculus and it stays
sharp, it will eliminate
deposits and not just
shave layers away,