When to Sharpen

When an instrument blade contacts the hard tooth surface, discreet metal particles are worn away from the blade. As a result, the cutting edge eventually becomes rounded. This rounded edge results in a dull and less effective blade. Although the dullness progresses with repeated use, wear is detectable after each use.1 A dull blade will burnish the calculus, gliding over it passively, rather than “biting” into the deposit to effectively remove it. A clinician using a dull blade loses the tactile sensation associated with the blade’s ability to detect the calculus. This loss of sensation reduces operator effectiveness. Consequently, the sharpness of an instrument should be assessed after each use. Consistent, regular sharpening prevents the need for extensive sharpening that is likely to change the shape, angle and other characteristics of the original instrument.2