Dental Cleanings


Closeup of Teeth with Dental Mirror

What is Gingivitis?


Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums around teeth. It is the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease. When gingivitis occurs the gums bleed easily, become red, swollen, and tender. In addition, you may notice bad breath. It is caused by the body’s own inflammatory response to plaque and calculus (tartar). Plaque and calculus contain bacteria that irritates and inflames the gums.

The good news is that gingivitis is reversible. Eliminating the infection can be as easy as a trip to our office for a dental prophylaxis, along with proper daily brushing and flossing. By removal of the bacteria that cause it, the progression to periodontal disease is stopped. However, if gingivitis is allowed to progress to periodontal disease, you may experience gum recession and bone loss and need more involved periodontal treatment.


A dental prophylaxis is an important procedure to help keep the oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of periodontal disease.


Some of the benefits of prophylaxis include:

  • Plaque and calculus removal – Plaque and calculus (tartar) buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated. Even using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove all traces of plaque and calculus. Professional dental hygiene equipment, tools, and techniques allows a qualified Registered Dental Hygienist, to see and treat these problems.
  • Esthetics – It’s hard to feel confident about a smile with stained teeth. Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains and polish your smile.
  • Fresher breath – Active gingivitis and periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis). Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line, possible gangrene stemming from gum infection, and periodontal bacteria by-products. The removal of plaque, calculus, and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates inflammation.

Visiting our office for a prophylaxis also allows regular checkups and identification of health issues. Many systemic health problems first present themselves in the mouth.

Since prophylaxis involves a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity, the dentist is able to screen for oral cancer, evaluate the risk of periodontal disease, and often spot signs of medical problems early, like diabetes or acid reflux. Recommendations can also be provided for improvement of your home care regimen.


What does dental prophylaxis treatment involve?


Prophylaxis treatment is performed by a Registered Dental Hygienist during a regular one-hour dental visit. It is also usually performed in conjunction with a dental checkup by the dentist. It is generally completed in the following steps:

  • Supragingival Cleaning – This involves cleaning the area above the gum line (crown of the tooth) with scaling tools and a polishing cup to rid them of plaque and calculus.
  • Subgingival Cleaning – This is the most important step for patients with gingivitis (inflammation) because the hygienist is able to remove calculus from the gum pockets and beneath the gum line.
  • Digital X-Rays and Examination – Routine x-rays can be extremely revealing when it comes to identifying periodontal disease. These x-rays show the extent of bone loss and also aids the dentist in identifying areas which may need future attention.

How often do you need dental prophylaxis treatment?


Prophylaxis is recommended every 6 months as a preventative measure for healthy patients. However, for patients that have undergone periodontal treatment, it may be recommended every 3 to 4 months in the form of periodontal maintenance.

Although periodontal disease and its resulting gum recession and bone loss cannot be completely reversed, prophylaxis is one of the tools used to effectively halt its destructive progress.
For any further questions about dental prophylaxis please do not hesitate to ask us.