Dental Cleaning and the Importance of “Prophy”
Did you know that professional dental cleaning can actually help prevent gum disease? Most people are well aware of what gingivitis is and the effects it has on dental health. One word you probably aren’t familiar with is prophy. What exactly is prophy? The term is actually short for prophylactic teeth cleaning. This type of cleaning is typically prescribed to those who are diagnosed with gum inflammation, better known as gingivitis.
A person with gingivitis may typically experience the following symptoms:
• Swollen gums
• Shiny gums
• Soreness of the mouth
• Red and inflamed gums
Another sign of gingivitis is gum bleeding, which is typically experienced while brushing or flossing. Itching gums and bad breath may also be signs of this condition.
Dental Cleaning Can Prevent Gingivitis
The development of gingivitis typically begins with poor brushing habits. After all, the root cause of the condition is a build-up of plaque and tartar. Plaque is the first thing to develop. This is the yellow film that builds up on teeth and is caused by bacteria and food particles in your mouth.
If the plaque is not removed, it will mix with the saliva in your mouth and harden over time. This is what causes tartar and ultimately what causes gingivitis. This causes an unending cycle with poor brushing habits being the root problem.
Gingivitis is a precursor to a more serious gum disease known as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease develops when a person fails to treat gingivitis. It can eventually lead to tooth or bone loss if allowed to progress.
While the effects of these diseases may be frightening, there’s no reason to despair. A professional dental cleaning from Ascent Family Dental can help treat gingivitis. By practicing good oral hygiene at home as well, you can prevent gingivitis from coming back.
Dental Cleaning Procedure (Prophy)
Prophy cleanings are performed in a dental office. The process involves multiple steps, but will be completed in one visit.
Step 1: A regular cleaning is given first. This may be done with a cavitron (an ultra-sonic instrument) or it may be done manually. A combination of the two may also be used. Regardless of the method, the goal is to dislodge and eliminate any plaque or tartar build-up on the teeth.
Step 2: After the regular cleaning is completed, a rotary machine will be used. Its primary purpose is to eliminate plaque that has built up along the gum line. It also polishes the tooth’s surface, which can actually help prevent plaque build-up in the future.
Step 3: The final step in the process is flossing. This will eliminate any plaque that may be hiding in between teeth.
Bacterial rinses may also be used to help further reduce bacteria in the mouth.
Although the cleaning process may seem intensive, the risks are typically minor. Some may find that a filling or crown has become loose after a prophy cleaning. However, the filling or crown was likely already defective in this case. A good crown or filling should be able to withstand the cleaning safely.
Regular in office dental cleanings are a key component in maintaining a healthy and bright smile. While it is also important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine at home, professional cleanings will eliminate any lingering plaque build-up that your toothbrush may miss. Call Ascent Family Dental today to schedule an appointment. Aside from your dental cleaning, Dr. Williams will be happy to answer any questions you may have about gingivitis and preventing periodontal disease.