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Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

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

Gingivitis and periodontal disease 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 your oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of gum disease.

Here are some of the benefits you will reiceve via 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, you may find it difficult or 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 your smile if is marred by yellowing, stained teeth.  Prophylaxis can rid or at leat reduce most unsightly stains and return your smile to its former glory.

  • Fresher breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis). Dental plaque stinks. To prove this to yourself, next time you floss, before you throw it out take a sniff. Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line, possible gangrene stemming from gum infection, plaque and periodontal problems.  The removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation of your gums.

What does prophylaxis treatment involve?

Prophylaxis is usually performed in the course of a regular dental visit with or without local anesthesia

Prophylaxis is generally limited to supragingival cleaning, the area above the gum line with scaling tools to rid them of plaque and calculus.

Subgingival cleaning may be the most important step for patients with periodontal disease because the hygienist removes calculus from the gum pockets and beneath the gum line.  This is not part of a general prophylaxis but is a separate procedure (see scaling and root planing)

Routine X-rays (bitewings)  can be extremely revealing when it comes to periodontal disease.  X-rays show the extent of bone and gum recession, and also aid the detection of areas which may need future attention.

Prophylaxis is recommended at least twice annually as a preventative measure, but should be performed every 3-4 months on periodontitis sufferers.  Though gum disease cannot be completely reversed, prophylaxis is one of the tools you can use to effectively halt its destructive progress.

If you have questions or concerns about prophylaxis or periodontal disease, or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office.

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