Dental prophylaxis is a professional cleaning procedure performed to get rid of plaque build-up that regular brushing and flossing can’t reach. Regardless of how diligent you are with home oral care, a regular professional dental cleaning is required to stop decay and the progression of gum disease.
Why is dental prophylaxis required?
Although your home dental care regime might be effective, there are many dental problems that are hard to spot or even prevent at home. Many dental issues do not cause pain or show any obvious signs. During your dental prophylaxis appointment, dentist can diagnose these problems with a thorough examination. He can look for decay and cavities and provide treatments that will help you avoid painful, costly restorations down the road. He will also remove the build-up of tartar and plaque that can lead to decay and gum disease.
How often is dental prophylaxis required?
If you practice excellent oral hygiene at home, a professional dental cleaning is only required twice a year. In fact, in some cases for those with exceptional dental health, you might even be able to visit every nine months. However, if you have signs of gum disease, cleanings are recommended every three to four months. This is necessary to help avoid progression to serious issues including tooth loss. If periodontitis sets in, it cannot be completely reversed. An effective cleaning plan will help stop the progression of gum disease and its damaging effects.
Your dentist might determine you are at high risk of dental disease for a number of reasons. This can include those who smoke, have gum disease, and those who get a lot of cavities. If you are pregnant, diabetic, or have a weakened immune system, more frequent appointments might be required. This is why it is important to let us know about health conditions, as they can affect your prophylaxis schedule.
Benefits of cleanings
There are many benefits to cleanings including:
- Plaque removal
- Tartar removal
- Whiter, shinier teeth
- Fresher breath
- A preventative approach to managing dental and oral health
- Stain removal
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it: If you have teeth, you need prophylaxis. It’s recommended that most patients receive prophylaxis at a dental office at least every six months, and patients with periodontal disease should have it every three to four months. Like any dental procedure, there are some things to consider before your dental checkup:
1. You may experience some sensitivity following prophylaxis. Plaque and tartar form a shield over teeth, and their removal will expose teeth to sensitive elements for a short time. Proper brushing and flossing will limit plaque and tartar from forming on teeth, making your dental visits a little easier.
2. For patients with heart conditions, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to be taken prior to the dental cleaning. Tell your dentist about your medical history, allergies and prescription medications you are taking prior to your first appointment. Be sure to update your medical records as needed.
3. Most dental plans cover two dental cleanings a year, but be sure you check your dental insurance coverage before accepting treatment. If you’re hesitating to make an appointment because you’re paying out-of-pocket, consider this: Prophylaxis is a preventive measure that can help prevent tooth decay and other dental problems. Without it, many dental conditions will go unnoticed and grow out of control. A dental exam twice a year can reduce the need for major dental treatments at a much greater expense down the line.
Dental prophylaxis is probably one of the greatest investments your can make in your dental and overall health.