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     Prophylaxis is designed to preserve health and prevent the spread of disease.  The purpose of polishing tooth surfaces is to make these surfaces smooth which makes it more difficult for plaque and debris to accumulate on your teeth to cause decay or gum disease 

    Dental polishing or prophy, is rarely done at the first appointment due to restrictions applied by patients dental plans and is only done after completing the clinical exam if there is no presence of gum disease.

     It is professionally defined as a procedure that includes scaling and polishing procedures to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stains deposits that are coronal only (which rarely exist) and is a scaling and polishing procedure for patients in a healthy oral state.**

      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 gumline 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.

It's 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.

It's "just a cleaning".
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.  

Years of experience has shown that the best way to prevent dental pain and expense is to  prevent the problem in the first place .... brushing and flossing.  At least half a dozen studies have shown that people with poor oral health tend to be at risk for heart disease


When a bacterial strain commonly found in dental plaque was infused into the blood stream of rabbits by University of Minnesota researchers, they found the microbe quickly induced the same type of clotting that often leads to heart attacks.  The bacterial infusion was also associated with increased blood pressure and a faster heart rate."
So whatever is making  you want to delay your prophy and exam doesn't matter to the harmful bacteria in your mouth;  they will still multiply at their usual rate, and your risks will escalate.  The easiest and least-costly thing you can do to protect yourself is to schedule your dental exam today.

Remember you not purchasing only a  dental procedure you are making an investment, an investment in your future dental and overall health.  

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The cleaning involves:

  • Mouth rinse with Breath RX for 30 sec.

  • 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 deplaque your tongue  and use of Breath Rx tongue gel is explained and demonstrated.  You are provided with a tongue scrapper and gel for your use at home.

  • 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 uncalcified plaque and tartar from the teeth. 

  • Disclosing solution is used to reveal areas in need of special attention.

Plaque Finder will help you find the areas that need more attention when you brush them
We use Plaque Finder to help us help you!

  • 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.

  • Family Gentle Dental Care bag is provided with all the products we have outlined for your home care use

  • Individualized, personal Oral hygiene fitness report and instruction sheet outlining suggestions for your home care routine.

  • Treatment planing.

  • Referral to specialists as needed

  • Check biting, chewing and swallowing patterns.

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A prophy is more than a cleaning

   Polishing is done with a special "paste" that is used with a motorized instrument and rubber cup that removes the remaining plaque and surface stains caused by various food, beverages and tobacco.  

  You will be than be instructed and encouraged to keep a good home care regimen and provided with your own personalized oral hygiene fitness report.

ADA statement on prophy and joint replacement


Repeated polishing does not remove significant dentin

Removing tooth structure with polishing has always been a concern when dentin is exposed. Researchers have estimated that during arubber cup polishing, 4.5 seconds are spent to clean a single surface (6 minutes per full mouth). To determine the effects of polishing with either a prophy brush or rubber cup, researchers measured dentinremoval on extracted teeth. Seventy-two extracted teeth were imbedded in acrylic and all enamel removed to expose dentin.

The pasteless prophy cup also demonstrated more surface loss than the other combinations. The measurements were in micro millimeters. In a worst case scenario, 0.1 mm of dentin would be lost after 11 to 69 years depending on how many professional polishings were performed each year. There is no need to worry about removing dentin when polishing with either brushes or rubber cups as minimal dentin is removed.

Zimmer, S., Barthel, C., Coffman, L., Raab, W., Hefferren, J.: Evaluation of Dentin Abrasion During Professional Tooth Cleaning in an In Vitro Model. J Clin Perio 32: 947-950, 2005. cited PerioReports November 2006

**Carol Tekavec, RDH, Dental Economics March, 2000

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