Professional cleaning of the teeth to prevent gum disease before the progression of infection occurs is referred to as prophylaxis dental care.
Your teeth are continuously in contact with the saliva of the oral cavity. Calcium and other substances present in the saliva help in strengthening and protecting the teeth. The one disadvantage of calcium is it tends to deposit on the surface of the teeth which overtime builds up to form calculus or tartar. This tartar or plaque build-up near the gum line or between the gaps of teeth provides an environment suitable for bacteria to colonize. These bacteria can cause severe gum inflammation and even destroy the gum and bone tissue thereby causing the teeth to shift or fall out. The bacteria may also enter the blood circulation and infect other organs of your body.
Teeth cleaning, and polishing helps in removing these bacterial colonies that have been deposited over time in the form of plaque or tartar.
Teeth cleaning will be performed by your dentist if gum disease is suspected or during a regular dental visit. Steps of teeth cleaning include:
- Your dentist will first use an ultrasonic vibrating instrument to loosen large particles of tartar attached to the teeth. Areas around the gum line or pockets may be cleaned to remove the debris attached to them.
- After large particles of tartar are removed, your dentist will use curved shaped hand tools called scalers and curettes to scrape smaller particles and smooth the tooth's surface.
- After the cleaning is done, your dentist will use a special gritty material to polish the teeth with the help of a soft spinning cup like instrument.
- Your dentist may then apply fluoride or antibacterial medication at the end of the procedure to strengthen the teeth or help faster healing of the gum pockets. Routine dental X-rays may be ordered to monitor progression of gum disease in the future.
Prophylaxis is a beneficial dental procedure that maintains the health of your teeth and prevents gum disease. Some of the benefits include:
- Removal of tartar and build-up of plaque
- Removing stains from the teeth's surface
- Resolving halitosis (bad breath)
Your dentist may recommend teeth cleaning at least twice a year, but it is advised to have the procedure done every 3-4 months in individuals prone to gum disease. Regular prophylaxis is effective to keep bacterial infection away and prevent periodontal disease and gingivitis.