Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

Dental prophylaxis is a procedure dentists perform to clean gums and teeth thoroughly. Periodontal disease and gingivitis progression are irreversible, but this treatment can effectively stop their progression. Most patients in Beverly Hills make the costly mistake of ignoring minor symptoms like swollen gums and failing to visit dentists. The longer you allow the symptoms to persist, the worse the oral health condition becomes. Prophylaxis procedures done by Dr Joseph Goodman can go a long way towards stopping periodontal disease and gingivitis progression, keeping your teeth healthy, improving your smile, and boosting your confidence.

Everything You Need to Know about Dental Prophylaxis

Prophylaxis is a dental procedure dentists perform to thoroughly clean teeth. The procedure entails a complete examination of the teeth and mouth and a thorough cleaning using an ultrasonic scaler pick or other tools to remove plaque, tartar, and calcifications. The teeth are then polished, and a sealant or fluoride treatment is applied. Additionally, your dentist can take X-rays if they suspect a cavity or if it has been a long time since you last had dental images.

Dental cleaning is also essential for hindering the advancement of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Gingivitis and periodontal disease occur when plaque-causing bacteria invade the tissue above and under the gum line. These bacteria cause severe irritation or inflammation, which results in chronic inflammatory responses in your body that can damage bone and gum tissues, making your teeth shift, fall out, or become unstable. The pockets between your teeth and gums become deeper and host more bacteria that could travel through your blood and infect different body parts.

Why Dental Prophylaxis is Necessary

Prophylaxis helps maintain your oral health, leading to fewer issues over time. Regular oral check-ups with a dental practitioner could help with the following issues:

  1. Gum Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, occurs when bacteria cause an infection in the tissue around the teeth. The buildup of bacteria could form tartar (a hard substance), which makes teeth more difficult to clean, worsening the periodontal disease.

Signs of gum disease include:

  1. Tender gums
  2. Sensitive teeth
  3. Bad breath
  4. Swollen gums
  5. Bleeding gums
  6. Receding gums
  7. Loose teeth

A dental practitioner will remove the plaque during a prophylaxis appointment, which makes it easier to clean your teeth and avoid gum disease.

  1. Dental Erosion

Teeth have a protective coating called enamel. Over time, different chemicals and elements in food and beverages could wear the enamel down.

The wearing down is called enamel erosion and could result in:

  1. Hollows in the tooth
  2. Pain and tooth sensitivity
  3. Decay
  4. Bad breath
  5. Loss of tooth surface
  6. Dry mouth

Regular dental visits can prevent dental erosion. Your dental practitioner will also spot tooth cavities early, making treatment cheaper and more manageable.

  1. It Promotes a Fresher Breath

Halitosis, or bad breath, is an indicator of gum disease. Decaying food particles under your gum line cause halitosis. Removing calculus, plaque, and bacteria enhances breath and eliminates irritation.

  1. It Promotes Teeth Aesthetics

Maintaining confidence with a smile marred by yellowing, stained teeth is challenging. Dental prophylaxis can eliminate unsightly stains in your teeth and restore your smile’s original glory.

  1. Reduces the Risk of Developing Other Health Conditions

Dental health is linked to overall health. Routine teeth cleaning can lower the likelihood of developing dementia, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Does Dental Cleaning Have Risks and Complications?

Prophylaxis is effective and safe. While there are no complications or risks, side effects can include sore gums and tooth sensitivity.

The tenderness should disappear within days. You can manage the discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen.

What Does Dental Prophylaxis Treatment Entail?

Dental prophylaxis can be administered during a routine dental check-up or under general anesthesia. If your dentist diagnoses severe gum disease, they will administer general anesthesia. An endotracheal tube could be fixed in the throat to safeguard your lungs from dangerous bacteria that the dentist will remove from your mouth.

Your dentist will perform the prophylaxis procedure in the following stages:

  1. Subgingival cleaning is the most crucial stage for gum disease patients because the dental practitioner will remove calculus from your gum pockets and below your gum line.
  2. Supragingival cleaning — Your dentist will thoroughly clean the region above your gum line using scaling tools to remove calculus and plaque.
  3. Root planing — During this stage, the dental practitioner will smooth your tooth root to remove the remaining bacteria. The bacteria are highly harmful to patients suffering from periodontitis, so removing them is usually your dentist’s top priority.
  4. Medication—After scaling and root planing, the dentist will apply an antimicrobial or antibiotic cream to your gum pockets. These dental creams boost quick and healthy recovery and reduce discomfort.
  5. Diagnostic imaging (dental examinations and X-rays) — Regular X-rays are instrumental in addressing periodontal disease. They demonstrate the progression of gum and bone recession and help pinpoint areas that require future attention.

How Often Should You Get Dental Prophylaxis?

Dental practitioners recommend visiting your dentist every six months for teeth cleaning and check-ups as a preventive strategy. This allows the dentist to examine your teeth and determine if anything requires addressing, including gingivitis or cavities. Gum disease is not entirely reversible, and prophylaxis is an effective tool that dentists can utilize to stop its destructive progression.

You could be at increased risk of periodontal illness and should visit your dentist more often if you:

You have Diabetes

As a diabetes patient, you are more vulnerable to infections and illnesses because a diabetic episode can inhibit your white blood cells from performing their primary role of fighting infections in your body. The body requires white blood cells to function optimally, fighting bacteria and diseases from the initial stage.

When blood is unregulated, you are at a higher risk of suffering from anything from a cold to periodontal disease. While you cannot avoid the common cold, your dentist could lower your risk of developing gum disease or any dental health issue. Cleaning your gums and teeth eradicates anything that might create a problem.

You are an Expectant Mother

If you are a pregnant mother and contract gum disease, your child can be born at a low birth weight or prematurely. Routine oral care is safe for you and your infant, and the dentist can make the necessary arrangements, like not administering X-ray examinations or sedation, for a healthier pregnancy.

You are a Smoker

Smoking makes it more challenging to remove plaque and tartar, increasing the possibility of tooth loss and gum disease. Consequently, smokers require a stringent oral care routine involving consistent flossing, brushing, and frequent cleanings.

Your dental healthcare provider will remove the dirt and plaque while inspecting for dental issues like periodontal disease and oral cancer.

Does Your Baby Require Dental Prophylaxis?

All minors should receive teeth cleaning (prophylaxis ) every six months.

Preparing Your Child for Dental Cleaning Appointments

Irrespective of how consistently you ensure your child brushes and flosses daily, routine professional cleaning is vital for optimal oral health. The minor should have their cleaned and checked twice a year. They should also start visiting a dentist around their first birthday, or once their first tooth erupts, whichever occurs first.

While you might think you will know whether the juvenile has cavities or gum disease, most dental health issues are challenging to identify without the proper training. During the minor’s appointment, your dentist will check for signs of dental issues and recommend the most effective treatment. They will also:

  • Evaluate whether the teeth are developing correctly and whether your child can benefit from early orthodontic intervention
  • Teach you the proper flossing and brushing techniques and recommend the best foods
  • Answer your questions

Another benefit of these early dental appointments is that they help children become comfortable and establish a good rapport with the dentist. However, going to a dentist can be scary, even for adults. Here are some ways to help your minor get ready for their initial dental cleaning to ensure the process runs smoothly:

Use Positive Reinforcement

If your child is nervous or scared of their appointment, you should reassure them that the visit is normal and safe. Motivate and praise them to fight their fears and be courageous.

Seasoned pediatric dental experts deal with children daily. Therefore, if your child does not cry or is not compliant during the appointment, it is normal and should not raise concerns. It becomes better with every visit.

You should tell your minor about the things that went well and find strategies to handle the negative aspects of the appointment.

Also, avoid talking ill about the impending procedure or your previous bad experiences. 

Take a Tour Before the Dental Appointment

After scheduling the appointment, consider taking a dental tour with your child before the dental cleaning. It can go a long way in preparing the juvenile because they will be familiar with the sounds and sights.

Play Some Games

Playing games can effectively demystify the experience and help with dental cleaning preparation.

You can start by breaking out the minor’s toothbrush and having them sit. Pretend to be the dentist and count and brush their teeth. Discuss why dental cleaning is essential. Next, switch roles.

Read Books or Watch Videos about Visiting the Dentist

When children see their favorite characters happily visiting their dentist, it puts a positive spin on them. It gives them an idea of what to expect. There are many books and videos about visiting a dentist that your child will love.

Tell the Child About the Dental Visit on the Same Day as Their Appointment

When humans do not know what to expect, sometimes their imaginations can run wild and in the wrong direction. That is why you should wait to tell the child about the dental cleaning. On the other hand, it is unwise to surprise them and show up at the dental office without a warning.

Instead, inform the minor about the appointment on the morning of the visit. Tell the child how the dentist will help them keep their teeth and smile healthy and strong. Answer their questions, but avoid giving a lot of details and using words like:

  • Hurt
  • Needle
  • Shot
  • Pain
  • Drill

How to Keep Your Teeth Clean Between Dental Cleanings

A substantial amount of time passes between your prophylaxis sessions. Therefore, it is essential to do the following to keep your teeth healthy in between your check-ups:

Brushing Your Teeth

You should brush your teeth for about 2 minutes twice each day. Brushing for less than 2 minutes does not remove plaque from the teeth.

On top of ensuring you brush for the recommended duration, using the correct technique is vital. Here are the proper tooth brushing guidelines:

  1. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
  2. Brush using short strokes, approximately the width of a tooth
  3. Move the toothbrush back and forth along your teeth’s outward surface. Ensure you brush gently
  4. Use a back-and-forth motion to brush your teeth’s chewing surfaces
  5. To effectively brush your teeth’s inner surface, hold the toothbrush vertically and brush your teeth up and down
  6. Remember to brush the tongue
  7. Rinse the toothbrush after using it and store it upright. If your loved one stores their toothbrush in a similar location as you, ensure the toothbrushes do not touch one another.

You should brush in the morning and before sleeping. If you brush after breakfast, wait one hour, especially after drinking or eating acidic beverages or foods. Brushing immediately after drinking or eating something acidic can remove your tooth enamel.

For instance, if you plan to drink citrus juice and cannot wait, brush your teeth before drinking. If that is impossible, rinse the mouth with water and chew sugar-free gum.

It is wise to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. A hard-bristled toothbrush can damage your enamel and cause receding gums, mainly if you apply plenty of pressure while brushing.

Remember to replace your toothbrush after its bristles wear out, fray, and bend. Even when the bristles are not frayed, replacing the toothbrush every three months is advisable.

Flossing Effectively

Flossing removes and cleans food particles stuck between teeth, reducing the risk of bacteria in the mouth and the development of cavities.

Here are guidelines on how to floss effectively:

  1. Break off about 18 inches of floss. To hold it correctly, wind around a significant part of the floss with your middle fingers and leave two inches for the teeth.
  2. Hold your floss taut with your index and thumb fingers
  3. Placing the dental floss between your teeth, gently glide it up and down and rub the sides of each tooth. Do not glide your gums; it can result in bruises and injuries.
  4. When the floss reaches your gum, curve it at the tooth’s curve, forming the letter “C.” It allows the floss to enter between the gums and teeth.
  5. Repeat the above steps as you move from one tooth to the next. Please use a new section after moving to the next tooth.

You should floss once a day.

Most dentists recommend that it does not matter whether you brush or floss first, provided you do a perfect job and follow your oral health daily. However, the challenge with brushing first is that every plaque, bacteria, and food particle dislodged by flossing will remain on your teeth surface until you brush next.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is crucial to your entire body, including your oral health. Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily keeps your gums and teeth healthy. Here are some reasons why you should drink plenty of water in between your prophylaxis sessions:

  1. Strengthens Your Enamel and Teeth

Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and lowers the risk of developing cavities by approximately 25% in adults and children. Water also restores enamel that could be worn out from bacteria and acids that cling to teeth from food particles.

  1. Water Keeps Your Mouth Clean

While drinking water cannot replace flossing and brushing, it rinses away residual materials that bacteria feed on. If left unremoved, the bacteria turn the food debris into acid that erodes the enamel.

  1. Drinking Water Prevents a Dry Mouth

Your saliva is the initial line of defense against cavities. It facilitates swallowing and washes away food debris and bacteria. Saliva also strengthens teeth by coating them with microscopic fluoride, phosphate, and calcium traces. Insufficient saliva causes dry mouth and increases the possibility of tooth decay. Drinking water increases your saliva production.

Avoid Smoking

Another reason why smokers should quit smoking is because it is related to the following:

  • Stained teeth, bad breath, loss of taste
  • Weakened immunity system
  • Gum disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Gum recession
  • Mouth sores and ulcers

Quitting smoking requires dedication, zeal, hard work, and accountability. Here are some practical steps to help you quit:

  • Get ready by setting your quitting date
  • Request your family, friends, and dentists to help you
  • Create distractions that shift your attention to something else whenever the urge to smoke arises
  • Use medication
  • Prepare for a setback

Foods to Eat and Avoid

You are what you eat. Some beverages and foods promote tooth decay, while others fight plaque buildup.

Some of the foods to eat include the following:

  • Vegetables and fruits rich in fiber — These foods promote saliva production. Saliva is a natural defense against gum disease that reduces the impact of enzymes and acids attacking your teeth.
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt restore minerals your teeth have lost due to bacterial acids, rebuilding your enamel.
  • Chewing sugarless chewing gum
  • Eating foods rich in fluoride, like powdered juices, soups, powdered cereals, seafood, and poultry products
  • Black and green tea

Here are some drinks and foods to avoid:

  • Citric juices and fruits — While citric juice and fruits, a great source of vitamin C, are good for your health in several ways, that is not the case for your teeth. They are acidic and can erode your enamel over time.
  • Chewing candy
  • Coffee
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Chewing ice
  • Potato chips
  • Dried fruits
  • Carbonated drinks

How Much is Dental Prophylaxis?

Determining the exact cost of dental cleaning can be challenging due to the following factors:

  • Location — Particular geographical regions have a higher overall cost of living. Factors like rent costs in an area also affect service and operation expenses for healthcare providers and patients. Generally, dental cleaning is more affordable in a rural area than in a larger metropolitan city.
  • Your dental history — Patients who miss routine cleanings might have active oral challenges like excessive plaque buildup and gum disease and require specialized cleaning. The better your routine and preventive care, the more affordable your dental procedure will be.
  • Dental insurance — Some insurance providers cover 100% of dental prophylaxis costs. Nevertheless, if you need deep cleaning, you might be required to pay a copay or meet a deductible. If you do not have health coverage, you will pay your dental care expenses out of pocket.

Ways to Save on Your Dental Cleaning Without an Insurance Plan

Without insurance, dental cleanings can have high out-of-pocket costs. Luckily, there are other methods to find pocket-friendly dental cleaning, including the following:

  • Dental schools — You can receive high-quality dental treatment at your nearby dental school for a fraction of what you would pay at a private facility. Most dental schools also accept Medicaid.
  • State programs — You might be eligible for dental prophylaxis at no cost if you meet specific unemployment or income requirements. You can find these programs through charity pop-up dental programs that offer free services once or twice a year.
  • Community health facilities

Find a Skilled Dentist Near Me

Even with good oral care, tartar and plaque can build up on your teeth and gums, causing gum disease, cavities, and discoloration if left unremoved. Dr Joseph Goodman can clean your teeth below and above your gum line. We can first examine your mouth to ensure you do not have cavities, floss and polish your teeth, and apply fluoride to prevent future tooth corrosion and strengthen your enamel. After the treatment, you can leave our office with a brighter, more beautiful smile and fresher breath. Please contact our  Beverly Hills dental office at 310-860-9311 to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about dental prophylaxis.