Professional cleanings (dental prophylaxis) performed by a certified dental hygienist form the foundation for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. In a professional cleaning, your hygienist will:
- Remove plaque from the teeth – Plaque is a sticky substance that forms in the mouth from food, saliva and bacteria. Plaque sticks to teeth and causes tooth decay and gum disease.
- Remove calculus (tarter) above the gum line – Calculus is plaque that has hardened on the tooth surface and is difficult to remove. (Calculus below the gum line indicates gum disease and requires a different procedure to remove it.)
- Polish and remove stains from teeth.
- Apply sealants (if needed) to prevent tooth decay and cavities.
- Provide nutritional counseling (in regards to your own health) and educate/instruct the patient on proper oral hygiene techniques.
- Administer fluoride treatments (for children and adolescents) to strengthen enamel and prevent decay.