Prophylaxis — a Fancy Word for Our Professional Cleaning

Some people think they do such a good job of brushing their teeth at home that they don’t need “professional” cleaning. While it is absolutely true that
good dental hygiene is a partnership between you and the team at Doctors of Dental Medicine, it’s absolutely false that you don’t need professional cleanings in addition to home hygiene.

Prophylaxis, that’s the fancy term. Here’s why you need prophylaxis twice yearly.


Why you need it

Professional cleaning removes plaque, calculus (tartar), and stains from the teeth. Why can’t you do this at home? While you can, and do need to, remove plaque with your home hygiene, it is almost impossible to remove it all. What you don’t/can’t get at slowly turns into tartar. This is the hard light-colored stuff that builds up particularly on the inner bottom teeth. No matter how well you brush or floss, once tartar has taken hold it can only be removed by a professional hygienist or dentist. That’s what those beloved dental picks are for.

And you don’t want to leave that stuff there. Once formed, tartar keeps growing because brushing doesn’t remove it. If you let it keep expanding, it will eventually begin to expand down under the gumline, causing irritation. This irritation is called gingivitis and is the precursor of gum disease.


What a prophylaxis does that you can’t do

A prophylaxis is a scaling and polishing procedure that removes normal plaque buildup, calculus, and stains. What’s scaling? That’s where the hygienist chips away the layer of tartar that has formed in your usual spots in your mouth. Various picks have different characteristics that help the hygienist break the grip of the tartar.

Once the tartar is removed, the teeth are professionally polished with mechanical polishing machines. We utilize a special paste with more grit than typical toothpaste that helps remove stains and polishes the teeth. This polishing also makes the tooth surfaces more smooth and difficult for plaque and debris to adhere to, at least for a couple days.


Why twice a year?

People wonder why we recommend twice yearly prophylaxis at Doctors of Dental Medicine. It’s not just arbitrary — six months is the time it takes for tartar to take hold in your usual build-up locations. And once it builds up it needs to be removed.

Call us at 732-329-3113 to schedule your next checkup.

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