Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

Oral Prophylaxis refers to the removal of plaque, tartar and stains on tooth surfaces, exposed or not. Thanks to scaling techniques such as cleaning and polishing.
These treatments are considered as preventive measures to fight against some local irritation factors and prevent the onset of dental diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, as well as promote the healing process.
Recent studies show that the vast majority of patients have dental diseases. Although the scale is not the cause of periodontal disease, its presence can have a deleterious effect favouring the disease.
Like the tartar, the bacterial plaque is present above and below the gum. However, the most aggressive plate that is beneath the gum. To obtain a therapeutic benefit, oral prophylaxis, therefore, seeks to remove plaque, tartar, and stains located within supragingival and subgingival regions.
Similarities have recently been established between periodontal disease and other serious conditions that do not affect the oral cavity, such as cardiovascular disease and premature births. Therefore, adequate prophylactic treatment can not only prevent the occurrence of dental diseases but can also be used to detect oral symptoms of other diseases, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and cancer of the mouth. In summary, prophylaxis can contribute to the overall good health of patients.

Reasons for the Prophylaxis /Teeth Cleaning

Here are some of the benefits of oral or dental prophylaxis:
Tartar Removal- The accumulation of tartar and plaque above and below the gums can cause serious periodontal problems if untreated. Even when the best techniques are used to brush and floss at home, it may be impossible to get the debris, bacteria and deposits on gum or periodontal pockets out. The dentist uses his experience and some specialized dental equipment to identify and address the problems like the plaque and tartar formation.
Aesthetics – When you have yellow or stained teeth, you may not want your smile to show your teeth. This means, you may find it difficult to smile. Prophylaxis can make your smile get its old glory back by getting rid of the teeth unsightly stains.
Fresher breathe- Persistent bad breath is otherwise known as halitosis often reveals periodontal disease. Decaying food particles hidden under the gum causes bad breath. Infections leading to gangrene and periodontal problems may also lead to bad breath. The removal of bacteria, tartar, and plaque may significantly improve the breath.
Identification of health problems – Many health problems are disclosed in the presence of the dentist. Since the aim of prophylaxis is to examine the oral cavity, the dentist may detect cancer of the oral cavity, detect any signs of medical problems and determine the risk of periodontitis.

What is involved in prophylaxis teeth cleaning?

This procedure may be performed in one dental visit. Some dentist may prefer to use a general anaesthetic during the procedure especially when periodontal disease has been diagnosed. They usually place an endotracheal tube in the throat to prevent the introduction of bacteria into the lungs.
The stages involved in prophylaxis are;

  • Supragingival cleaning: The area above the gum line is completely cleaned with scaling tool by the dentist to get rid of calculus and plaque.
  • Subgingival cleaning: This is the stage where the dentist achieves the complete removal of calculus from the gum pockets and underneath the gum line.
  • Root planning: In this stage, any remaining bacteria is removed by the dentist by smoothing of the tooth root.
  • Medication: The dentist places an antimicrobial or antibiotic cream in the gum pocket after scaling and root planning.
  • X-ray and examination: This can reveal a lot of information about the periodontal disease.
    It is recommended that you undergo prophylaxis twice annually. But those who are sufferers of periodontitis, prophylaxis should be done every 3-4 months.

Oral Hygiene Aids

For the maintenance of excellent oral hygiene, an individual should undergo regular dental check-ups. Dental problems should be avoided by oral homecare routines. The leading cause of teeth disorders is periodontal disease. Professional cleanings of the teeth can eliminate the possibility of heavy disease-causing bacteria and plaque.
The most popular oral hygiene aids for home care are:
Dental Flosses
This is known as the most common interdental and subgingival dental cleaner. It has various types and flavors. The floss is formed from polyethylene ribbons or nylon filaments. It aids the removal of plaque and particles of food from the in-between the teeth. This may cause some damage to the soft tissues when done vigorously. It is recommended that flosses should be done once or twice a day.
Interdental Cleansers
In addition to dental floss, interdental brushes are also recommended by many dentists. They are tiny brushes that are gentle on the gums and used effectively in cleaning the contours of the teeth and in between the gums.
Mouth Rinses
Mouth rinses are of two types. The cosmetic rinses and the therapeutic rinses. This supresses bad breathe and may or may not require prescription. Although, the cosmetic rinse has a minimal effectiveness against plaque. Therapeutic rinses are better because they contain active ingredients that helps in the reduction of bad breath, cavities and plaque.
Oral Irrigators
These have been made to clean debris from the mouth. Bacteria and food particles are removed by a continuous spray of water from tiny jets directed to the gum pockets. This is a method to however risks of harmful gum diseases.
Rubber tip Simulators
There are excellent tools for the removal of plaque from around the gum line. It also helps to stimulate the flow of blood to the gums. This should be used at least once each day. You can use the tap water to rinse off any plaque on the tip. The tip should be replaced immediately you notice it is being worn.

Tongue cleaners
These are devices specially designed for the removal of fungi, bacteria and food debris from the surface of the tongue. These fungi and bacteria colonize and result to halitosis. There is the plastic, wooden or metallic type of tongue cleaners. The prevention of ingestion of fungi and bacteria is achieved by tongue cleaning.
There are many types of toothbrushes available in the market. Electronic toothbrushes are better than manual toothbrush; hence, dentist recommends the use of electronic toothbrushes. The electronic toothbrush vibrates and rotates making it a better tool for dislodging and removing plaque and food particles respectively from the gum and teeth. If you want to achieve the same result, much effort is required to do so.
You should replace your manual toothbrush every three months.

Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride is an agent that helps in the prevention of tooth decay. Fluoride is present in almost every water and food in varying amounts. Many professional and health organizations support the use of fluorides as it has been known for over 50 years.
Two ways that fluoride works
The two ways include topical fluoride and systemic fluoride.
The topical fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth when they erupt because they seep into the outer surface of the tooth enamel preventing the tooth from decay. Topical fluorides are used in our toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. When we use them, we gain topical fluoride.
Systemic fluoride have a dual function. They help to strengthen the teeth that have erupted and those that are developing. Systemic fluorides are obtained from foods and community water supply. The gel or drug form of systemic fluoride can be prescribed. Fluorides are very important and can be prescribed for anyone of any age by the dentist.
Most times, the fluoride we receive from food and water is not enough to prevent teeth decay; therefore, home or professional treatment may be recommended by the dentist.

Reasons for recommending fluoride Treatment

  • Frequent carbonated or sugar intake.
  • Sensitive and expose root surfaces
  • Inadequate exposure to fluorides
  • Fissures and deep pits on the chewing surfaces of the teeth
  • Poor or fair oral hygiene habits
  • Reduction in the flow of saliva as a result of medications, medical treatment or medical conditions.
  • History of dental decay

The combination of toothbrush twice a day and the use of fluoride will prevent tooth decay.

How to brush and floss

These are the most important aspect of oral hygiene. Apart from the bi-annual professional tooth cleaning that effectively removes plaque, debris, and tartar, home care methods are equally effective. Proper flossing helps to prevent serious disease and make your smile sparkle.
The essence of proper flossing and brushing

  • Prevention of periodontal disease
  • Prevention of tooth decay
  • Prevention of staining
  • Prevention of halitosis

The proper way to brush

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. This should be done in the morning and before you go to bed. You should use a brush whose head is small enough to access every part of the mouth and a brush that has soft bristles to prevent damage to the gum tissues.
Guide to proper brushing

      • The toothbrush should be placed at 45-degree angle when the teeth and the gum meet.
      • The teeth and gum line should be brushed with small circular motions.
      • Avoid the application of too much pressure on the teeth because the tooth enamel and the gum may be damaged in the process.
      • The following should be brushed; the cheek side, every tooth, tongue side and the chewing surfaces. Ensure the back teeth is brushed.
      • The chewing surfaces should be brushed with back and forth strokes.

The proper way to floss

The removal of plaque from between the teeth can be achieved by flossing. It also helps to limit the depth of gum pockets and prevent periodontal disease. Flossing should be done on a daily basis because it reaches the areas that are difficult to reach by the toothbrush.
Guide to proper flossing

      • You should cut a piece of floss to about 18 inches long.
      • One end of the floss should be wrapped around the middle finger of the left hand and the middle finger of the right hand should also be wrapped until they are 2-3 inches apart.
      • Gently work the floss towards the gum line between the teeth.
      • Curve the floss in a u-shape around each tooth until you cover the teeth and slide it beneath the gum line carefully.
      • The floss should be moved up and down carefully for several times for proper removal of interdental plaque and debris.


Sealants are thin plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars, premolars and any groove on the teeth. Any tooth with sealant is tough to clean and are liable to decay. One major function of a sealant is to seal deep grooves and thereby creating a surface that can be easily cleaned.
Reasons for sealants

      • Children and teenagers: It should be done as soon as the six year molars begin to appear.
      • Adults: It is done on the surfaces of an adult tooth without decay, and that has depression and deep grooves.
      • Baby teeth: It is done on a baby’s teeth if the presence of deep grooves or depression is notice.

What is involved in sealants?

The application of sealants is done by the dentists or a dental hygienist, and it does not take too much time to complete.
The dentist cleans the tooth thoroughly and then surround it with cotton to keep the area dry. The sealant is made to bond properly to the teeth by application of a special solution of the enamel surface. The deep grooves or depressions are covered by carefully painting the sealant material onto the enamel surface.