Hand scaling involves the use of specialized cleaning instruments called scalers, which come in different shapes and curvatures to match the natural anatomy of the teeth. They are used by carefully scraping the deposits with a gentle to moderate amount of pressure. The goal is to obtain a clean and smooth surface.

By relying on their tactile sense to locate and remove food particles plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line the dentist can bring the gum tissues back to a state of overall health.

Hand scaling and polishing, also known as dental prophylaxis make up the components of a regular cleaning.