A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Periodontal disease and gingivitis occur when bacteria from plaque colonize on the gingival (gum) tissue, either above or below the gum line. These bacteria colonies cause serious inflammation and irritation which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body. As a result, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out. The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and house more bacteria which may travel via the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.
What does prophylaxis treatment involve?
- Supragingival cleaning- The hygienist will thoroughly clean the area above the gum line with scaling tools to rid them of plaque and calculus.
- Subgingival cleaning- This is the most important step for patients with periodontal disease because the hygienist is able to remove calculus from the periodontal pockets and beneath the gum line.
- Root planing- This is the smoothing of the tooth root by the hygienist to eliminate any remaining bacteria. These bacteria are extremely dangerous to periodontitis sufferers, so eliminating them is one of the top priorities.
- Medication – Following scaling and root planning, an antibiotic or antimicrobial cream may be applied in the gum pockets. The creams promote fast and healthy healing in the pockets and help ease discomfort.
- X-ray and examination – Routine X-ray can be extremely revealing when it comes to periodontal disease. X-rays show the extent and quantity of bone and gum recession and also aids the dentist in identifying areas which may need future attention.
- Fluoride Treatment – A topical application of fluoride foam or varnish is used to reduce the incidence of dental caries (cavities) from the constant demineralization of tooth enamel from oral acids which we consume.
Prophylaxis is recommended twice annually as a preventative measure but should be performed every 3-4 months on periodontitis sufferers. Though gum disease cannot be completely reversed, prophylaxis is one of the tools dentists can use to effectively slow its destructive progress.