The professional cleaning of teeth to prevent gum diseases before the progression of infection 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 teeth. The one disadvantage of calcium is it tends to deposit on the surface of teeth, which over time, 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 colonise. These bacteria can cause severe gum inflammation and even destroy the gum and bone tissue, 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 help 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 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 the progression of gum disease in the future.
Prophylaxis is a beneficial dental procedure that maintains the health of your teeth and prevents gum diseases. Some of the benefits include:
- Removal of tartar and built-up plaque
- Removal of 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 diseases. Regular prophylaxis is effective to keep bacterial infections away and prevent periodontal diseases and gingivitis.