Dental Cleanings (Prophylaxis)
A professional dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, is the only way to remove tartar (calcified dental plaque) and the harmful oral bacteria that the film harbors. While your checkup involves a careful examination to search for signs of trouble, a cleaning focuses more on preventing trouble from forming by keeping your teeth clean and clear of harmful plaque and tartar.
Brushing your teeth at least twice every day and flossing at least once is a minor form of dental cleaning, and is necessary to control the buildup of oral bacteria-rich plaque on your teeth and gums. However, missed spots of plaque can quickly calcify, or harden, into tartar (or calculus), which can only be removed by a skilled hygienist or dentist using professional cleaning equipment. In addition to daily plaque removal, routine professional dental cleanings are necessary to prevent concerns such as progressive tooth infection and periodontitis caused by the buildup of excessive oral bacteria.
Regular dental cleanings focus on clearing plaque, tartar, and debris from the visible crowns of your teeth. However, some patients may require deep cleaning (or scaling and root planing) to address oral bacteria that have settled underneath the gums. Known as gingivitis, this bacterial infection leads to excessive inflammation that can erode the supportive periodontal ligaments and jawbone structure. Removing the oral bacteria from your roots via scaling and root planing can mitigate or reverse the problem to prevent extensive damage from gum disease.
How often should I visit the dentist for dental cleanings?
Preventative appointments, or checkup and cleaning appointments, are typically scheduled no more than six months apart. An important goal in preventative treatment is to avoid the buildup of bacteria-rich plaque and tartar, which contribute to tooth infection, gum disease, and more if allowed to accumulate. Visiting your dentist at least twice a year can help effectively keep harmful oral bacteria at bay and reduce your risk for more extensive and costly dental treatment down the road.
What is the cost of a dental cleaning?
A dental cleaning is performed during each of your dental checkup appointments, and is included in the price ($25 per visit with a general dentist in Doctors Network).