Teeth Cleaning (Prophylaxis)


Seattle Dental Implants & Prosthodontics – Seattle, WA

A dental prophylaxis is a procedure performed by our Registered Dental Hygienist to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for stopping the progression of gingivitis and periodontal disease and to maintain optimal oral and systemic health.

Prophylaxis is an effective procedure in keeping the oral cavity in good health and halting the progression of gum disease. The benefits include:

  • Plaque Removal: Plaque build up and tartar (also referred to as calculus), both above and below the gum line, can result in serious periodontal problems. Unfortunately, even with a proper home brushing and flossing routine, it is impossible to remove all debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets. Therefore, it is important that you regularly see our experienced hygienist to remove damaging build-ups.
  • A Healthier Looking Smile: Stained and yellowed teeth can dramatically decrease the aesthetics of a smile. Prophylaxis is an effective treatment in ridding the teeth of these otherwise unsightly stains.
  • Fresher Breath: Bad breath (or halitosis) is generally indicative of advancing periodontal disease. A combination of odor causing bacteria and the break down of food particles (possibly below the gum line) results in bad breath. The routine removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria can noticeably improve halitosis and reduce infection.

Prophylaxis can be performed in our office. We recommend that a prophylaxis be performed on a healthy mouth twice annually to maintain oral health, but should be completed every three to four months for those suffering from periodontal disease. It should be noted that gum disease cannot be completely reversed, but prophylaxis is one of the tools we can use to effectively prevent the progression and potentially stop it all together.

Periodontal Disease: What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal treatment is necessary when bacterial activity has damaged your gums and the supporting structures of your teeth. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed and teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out which can affect your ability to chew and speak. Periodontal disease is also linked with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Periodontal diseases are ongoing infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva. While there are many diseases which affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal issues, and are divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis, the less serious of the diseases, may never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes periodontitis.

Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis in genetically-susceptible individuals. Plaque is a sticky colorless film, composed primarily of food particles and various types of bacteria, which adhere to your teeth at and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, even minutes after cleaning. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red, swollen and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. If daily brushing and flossing is neglected, plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line.

If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorates. The progressive loss of this bone, the alveolus, can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that adhere to the tooth’s surface, along with an overly aggressive immune response to these bacteria.

Periodontal disease is dangerous because it is often painless and symptomless. Eighty percent of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45, and twenty percent of patients with the disease are unaware they have it. It is important to maintain proper home oral care and regular dental visits to reduce the risk of obtaining this disease.