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Oral Prophylaxis

Oral Prophylaxis

Oral prophylaxis, commonly known as dental cleaning or professional teeth cleaning, is a preventive dental procedure aimed at removing plaque, tartar (calculus), and stains from the teeth and gums. This procedure is crucial for maintaining oral health, preventing the progression of gingivitis and periodontal disease, and ensuring the longevity of one’s natural teeth. It’s typically recommended that individuals undergo oral prophylaxis every six months, though the frequency may vary based on a person’s oral health status, history of periodontal disease, and other factors.

Components of Oral Prophylaxis

  • Plaque and Tartar Removal: Plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva, can harden into tartar if not removed regularly through brushing and flossing. Tartar can form both above and below the gum line and can only be removed with professional dental instruments. Dental hygienists use special tools, such as scalers and ultrasonic devices, to gently remove these deposits without damaging the tooth surface.
  • Polishing: After tartar removal, the teeth are polished to remove surface stains and any remaining plaque, resulting in a smoother surface. Polishing is usually done with a special paste and a power polisher that spins a soft rubber cup. This step helps to brighten the teeth and gives them a smooth feel.
  • Flossing: Professional flossing as part of the oral prophylaxis ensures that any plaque or particles between the teeth and along the gum line are removed.
  • Fluoride Treatment: Depending on the patient’s oral health status, a fluoride treatment may be applied after cleaning. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay.
  • Dental Examination: Although not part of the cleaning process itself, oral prophylaxis appointments often include a comprehensive dental examination. The dentist will check for signs of decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. They may also review and update the patient’s dental x-rays.

Benefits of Oral Prophylaxis

  • Prevents Gum Disease: Regular removal of plaque and tartar is essential in preventing the onset and progression of gum disease.
  • Helps in Detecting Oral Health Issues Early: Regular visits allow the dentist to identify and treat problems early on, often saving time, money, and discomfort.
  • Contributes to Overall Health: Poor oral health has been linked to various systemic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Maintaining good oral health can help improve overall health.
  • Eliminates Bad Breath: Accumulation of plaque, tartar, and bacteria in the mouth can cause halitosis (bad breath). Professional cleaning helps in managing and preventing this condition.
  • Enhances Aesthetics: Removal of stains and polishing of the teeth contribute to a brighter and more aesthetically pleasing smile.


  • Sensitivity: Some people may experience temporary sensitivity to cold or pressure after a dental cleaning, especially if there was significant tartar buildup or gum disease. This sensitivity usually diminishes within a few days.
  • Frequency: While the standard recommendation is dental cleaning every six months, some individuals, such as those with a history of periodontal disease, may require more frequent cleanings.
Oral prophylaxis is a cornerstone of preventive dentistry, helping individuals maintain their oral health and prevent future dental issues. It's an essential part of a comprehensive oral hygiene regimen that includes regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.

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