Prophylaxis is designed to preserve health and prevent the spread of disease. The purpose of polishing tooth surfaces is to make these surfaces smooth and make it more difficult for plaque and debris to accumulate on your teeth to cause decay or gum disease. Dental polishing, or prophylaxis, is rarely done at the first appointment due to restrictions applied by dental plans and is only done after completing the clinical exam if there is no presence of gum disease.

Professional polishing removes plaque, tartar, and stain from the teeth. It is a cosmetic procedure that removes surface stains on the crown part of the tooth or above the gum line so they will look and feel cleaner. However, this procedure is not a procedure that cleans infected, diseased gum tissue and root surfaces. This is only a superficial cleaning and will not eliminate disease or get it under control.

This cleaning may be done by your dentist, dental hygienist, and/or a licensed professional who performs this polishing in the dental office along with education in the proper care of your teeth and gums. Its main purpose is to improve the appearance of your teeth by making them look cleaner and brighter. Since this polishing is a preventive procedure, it is completed only if the teeth are free from calcified plaque buildup and the gum tissue is healthy.

Many people think of a dental polishing as the dental equivalent of car waxing. Actually, the combination of a prophy and a routine examination is the first-line defense against catastrophic dental problems.

This cleaning involves:

  • Assessment of mouth cleanliness.
  • Vital signs are taken: blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration rate as needed.
  • Evaluation of your dental history and medical history and home care routine.
  • Nutrition counseling.
  • Tongue scraping to de-plaque your tongue.
  • Shade guide is used to record the shade of your teeth.
  • Scaling of teeth to remove all plaque, stains and tartar on the tooth surfaces above the gum line. Scaling is performed by using an ultrasonic instrument to remove un-calcified plaque and tartar from the teeth.
  • Disclosing solution is used to reveal areas in need of special attention. Polishing teeth to remove all surface stains.
  • Polish porcelain crowns, veneers and silver restorations.
  • Flossing of your teeth along with education on importance of flossing in regards to your total well-being.
  • Evaluation of your gum tissue.
  • Application of fluoride as needed.
  • Treatment planing.
  • Check biting, chewing and swallowing patterns.
  • Referral to specialists as needed.