Your dentist or hygienist will use a 'scale and polish' when your teeth require a thorough clean to remove all traces of plaque and tartar. Scaling is used to remove the hard tartar on your teeth, which cannot be removed by simply brushing your teeth. The polishing stage helps to clean away stains from your teeth, which may have been caused by coffee, tea or red wine. If you have gum disease, you will require a deeper scaling which is called 'root planing'. As this treatment cleans all around the roots of the teeth.