Prophylaxis (teeth cleaning)

A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis.

Periodontal disease and gingivitis occur when bacteria from plaque colonize on the gingival (gum) tissue, either above or below the gum line. These bacteria colonies cause serious inflammation and irritation which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body. As a result, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out. The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and house more bacteria which may travel via the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.

Reasons for prophylaxis/teeth cleaning

Prophylaxis is an excellent procedure to help keep the oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of gum disease.
Here are some of the benefits of prophylaxis:

  • Tartar removal – Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated. Even using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets. The experienced eye of a dental hygienist using specialized dental equipment is needed in order to spot and treat problems such as tartar and plaque buildup.
  • Aesthetics – It’s hard to feel confident about a smile marred by yellowing, stained teeth. Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains and return the smile to its former glory.
  • Fresher breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis). Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line, possible gangrene stemming from gum infection, and periodontal problems. The removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation.
  • Identification of health issues – Many health problems first present themselves at a dental visit. Since prophylaxis involves a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity, the hygienist is able to screen for oral cancer, evaluate the risk of periodontitis and often spot signs of medical problems like diabetes and kidney problems. Recommendations can also be provided for altering the home care regimen.
Types of teeth cleaning
  1. Prophylaxis: Dental prophylaxis includes scaling and polishing procedures to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains. Some patients may require more than one prophylaxis every six months depending on the efficiency of their dental home care.
  2. Full mouth Debridement: It’s a type of cleaning performed to enable comprehensive periodontal evaluation and diagnosis. The removal of subgingival and/or supragingival plaque and calculus that obstructs the ability to perform an oral evaluation. A re-evaluation is necessary after a month to determine if the patient may need deep cleanings or just regular cleanings.
  3. “Deep Cleaning” or periodontal scaling and root planing, per quadrant. This procedure involves instrumentation of the crown and root surfaces of the teeth to remove plaque and calculus from these surfaces. It is indicated for patients with periodontal disease (active bone loss) and is therapeutic, not prophylactic in nature. The placement of localized antiobiotic is recommended after a deep cleaning to ensure best results.
  4. Periodontal maintenance procedures (following deep cleanings). This procedure is for patients who have completed periodontal treatment and includes removal of the bacterial flora form crevicular and pocket areas, scaling and polishing of the teeth, and a review of the patient’s plaque control efficiency. It is recommended every 3-4 months.

As you can see, there is more than ONE type of cleaning. Only a complete dental evaluation can determine the type of cleaning you need. Your daily oral hygiene, habits and techniques are key to improve and maintain your periodontal condition.

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