A professional tooth cleaning is often referred to as prophylaxis (prophy for short). It’s a Greek word meaning ‘to prevent beforehand.’ In the realm of dentistry, it’s helping to prevent gum disease.
Dental cleanings involve removing plaque and tartar that have built up on the teeth over time. If the buildup continues to accumulate on the teeth bacteria will settle next to the gums causing them to become inflamed or infected, which will lead to gum disease.
We polish the teeth so that the surfaces are clean and smooth and bacteria are unable to stick to them. The hygienist will use water, a variety of specialized tools, and vibrations to loosen the plaque and tartar so that they can be removed from both on and between the teeth.
Once all surfaces are clean, the hygienist will polish the teeth. This is usually done with a slow-speed handpiece with a rubber tip that spins on the end. They may use a gritty toothpaste-like material to make them shiny and smooth.
Dental cleanings are generally painless. Patients might have some sensitivity due to the vibration and sound of the handpiece or the scraping that is done on the teeth. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had a cleaning, you may have some inflammation in the gums. Your hygienist can provide a topical anesthetic when needed.
Here at Michael P. Delaney, DDS, we are committed to helping you maintain great oral health and hygiene and want to encourage you to have regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
If you have any questions about professional cleanings and polishing or just need to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us today at (646) 370-5354.