Dental prophylaxis is primarily a preventive measure, and as mentioned before it can also reduce the risks of gum disease, caries, and periodontal disease. This is an additional procedure that can be performed both by a dentist and a dental hygienist. Even if you have a very strict history of maintaining perfect oral hygiene, there are still parts of the oral cavity and teeth that the conventional cleaning methods cannot reach. People that brush after every meal, floss every day and use a mouthwash on regular basis think they are completely covered and protected from caries and gum disease. That is not completely true since the oral cavity is a very complicated ecosystem, inhabited by bacteria even in the tiniest spaces. That is why tooth decay and calculus are very common on the surfaces located between two teeth.
Oral prophylaxis includes procedures that are called scaling and polishing. During the first one, the dental professional removes all existing calculus which can be located both above and below the gumline. Calculus is a hard substance that is adhered to the surfaces of teeth. If the patient doesn’t remove plaque regularly it will transform into tartar. The plaque and calculus placed below the gumline cannot be removed with a toothbrush. That is why dentists recommend that you undergo a professional oral cleaning at least twice a year. This procedure is not painful at all, but the patient might feel slight discomfort at times.
The main objective is to completely remove all debris, plaque, tartar, and discolorations both supragingival and subgingival. Dental professionals use hand instruments, sonic and ultrasonic scalers. The sonic and ultrasonic machines use vibrations to remove hardened calculus from the surfaces of teeth and roots. The tip of the instrument works with high vibrations and usually completely removes these hard substances and often destroys some types of bacteria. These deposits can be very harmful and can initiate gum and periodontal disease. That is why they should be completely removed in order to avoid inflammation. After the ultrasonic cleaning, dentists usually use hand scalers to do a fine scaling and leave the surfaces clean.
During the second part of prophylaxis, called polishing, dental professionals will make sure that everything is perfectly smooth. Once all of the tartar and debris are removed, there still might be miniature rough places, that later can become spots where bacteria and plaque pile up. Dental polishing is also additionally helpful in removing some of the discoloration and stains on the teeth. It is done with a small soft-bristled brush and a special paste. It is very similar to the brushing that you do at home, with the difference being that it performed with a rotating machine and a higher speed. It is also not painful at all, and the taste of the paste is usually very pleasant. Dental prophylaxis is very important in taking care of your overall oral health.