What Is A Prophy?

polishA prophy is short for prophylaxis. A prophylaxis is a professional dental cleaning which is intended to prevent periodontal disease. For people who already have developed periodontal disease, supportive periodontal therapy (SPT), which is more complex than a prophy, is required at regular intervals. Today your Encinitas, CA, periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania discusses professional dental cleanings.

Prophylaxis and Gum Disease

Prophylaxis means to “ward off” disease, and that is why profession dental cleanings are so important–to help prevent periodontal disease. Periodontal disease develops in stages. It begins as gingivitis, the buildup of bacterial plaque which causes inflammation of the gingival (gum) tissue. Signs of gingivitis include red, swollen and bleeding gums. Left untreated the bacterial plaque hardens into tartar and can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning which are more thorough than brushing and flossing at home. Prophys help prevent gum disease by removing what may have been missed during dental care at home. The goal is to prevent periodontal disease and tooth loss.

What Is A Professional Cleaning?

  • Step 1: The major goal of a professional cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar buildup. This can be done using a manual dental tool called a scaler, or an ultrasonic scaler.  Ultrasonic scalers can loosen big chunks of tartar faster and easier.
  • Step 2: After removing plaque and tartar from the teeth, a planer is used to smooth nicks and crannies. A smooth surface is harder for bacterial plaque to adhere to.
  • Step 3: The next step is to polish the teeth using prophylaxis paste. The grittiness of the paste makes them even smoother and shiny.
  • Step 4: The hygienist will floss the teeth before the final step.
  • Step 5: The final step is a fluoride treatment. Fluoride helps rebuild the enamel and strengthen the teeth.


About Your Encinitas Periodontist

To learn how to keep your smile healthy and beautiful so you can enjoy the benefits it offers, subscribe to this blog, and visit Dr. Kania for a consultation. As a board-certified periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania is specially qualified to diagnose and treat issues concerning periodontal tissue and the supportive structures of a patient’s smile, as well as place dental implants to restore teeth lost to dental disease or trauma. To seek Dr. Kania’s expertise, visit our office or contact us today at (760) 642-0711.