Periodontal prophylaxis or dental cleaning
This term means much more than its name suggests. It does not only mean removing unattractive stains, but also protects against periodontal disease in adults. The first thing that has to be done in a dental hygiene procedure is to remove the plaque and tartar surrounding the neck of the teeth, especially any below the gum, as this is what causes and reproduces a periodontal disease. This tartar is normally removed using ultrasound devices and/or curettes that are specially designed for this purpose. The area is then rinsed with pressurized water mixed with a special bicarbonate to remove stains caused by tobacco, tea, etc. This can also be done with special brushes connected to handpieces.
How often is oral prophylaxis required?
This will depend on each person, as there are people who never need them, and others who have to come in every month. This is usually because they have not removed the plaque at home using the recommended methods (dental water jet, floss, interdental brushes, etc.)
It is important to remember that every mouth is different, with its own specific needs.
The qualified professional is the best person to decide on these specific treatments. If you are found to have a predisposition to gingivitis or "pyorrhea" you will need to come in for cleaning sessions more regularly.
It is normal that after eliminating tartar around the roots of your teeth, they will feel more sensitive for a few days. This does not mean they are damaged, or that the enamel has been removed or scratched. Modern-day equipment is specially designed not to scratch tooth enamel.
Once the tartar has been removed we can control dental hygiene more effectively, by removing plaque from areas we could not previously reach because they were covered with tartar.
Plaque: a soft yellowish-white material that accumulates on teeth when they are not brushed correctly. It consists of remnants of food, dead cells from the mouth cavity, saliva components and bacteria. Plaque can be eliminated performing a proper brushing.
Tartar: plaque that is calcified when calcium salts from the saliva are deposited on it. Once tartar has formed it cannot be removed by normal brushing, and requires professional cleaning.