You may think that brushing and flossing are enough to keep your teeth clean and healthy, but this is not the case. Once in a while, you need to do a thorough cleaning of your mouth to prevent bad breath and maintain good oral hygiene and health. Thorough mouth cleaning is known as dental prophylaxis. All you have to do is visit your dentist, and after examination, the dentist could perform this process if necessary.

At Northridge Dentist, we have helped patients to undergo prophylaxis successfully. We perform an in-depth examination before the process to ensure nothing goes wrong during and after it. We will make you feel as comfortable as possible and do the procedure quickly and effectively. If you need to undergo dental prophylaxis in Northridge, do not hesitate to call us and we will schedule an appointment for you. This article focuses on what teeth cleaning entails, its benefits, and risks of not having dental prophylaxis. 

Understanding Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

A dental prophylaxis is a medical term that refers to a thorough cleaning process done to one’s teeth. Prophylaxis treatment helps maintain the good health of your gums, teeth, mouth, and  halt or prevent the advancement of gum disease (periodontal disease) and gingivitis.

Gingivitis and periodontal disease arise when the bacteria from plaque dominate the gum (gingival) tissue, either below or above your gum line. The bacterial colonies cause severe irritation and inflammation, which generates a chronic inflammatory response in your body in the long run.  Consequently, your body starts to destroy bone tissue and gum systematically, causing the teeth to shift, fall out entirely, or become unstable. The pockets between your teeth and gum become deeper, and this makes them to harbor more bacteria which could travel through your bloodstream and cause infections to other body parts.

Basics of Oral Hygiene

Practicing good oral hygiene habits is critical for more than merely maintaining an attractive smile. The more often you create time to care about your basic dental health, the more you reduce the chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing periodontal disease.

Your dental health could be viewed as an indication of your general health. Because your oral cavity is very close to the brain physically, there’s a high risk of letting bacteria develop and spread throughout the tissues of the mouth. The much work the immune system must do in fighting off infection and disease, the more susceptible the body becomes to severer health problems, and the more severe these health issues may turn out to be, consequently.

Poor Dental Hygiene is Connected to These Infections and Diseases

No doubt that today’s life is hectic. Many individuals feel that they do not have any spare time for themselves. However, sparing time to see the dentist or dental hygienist for your semi-annual or annual prophylaxis appointment may save you significant amounts of money, discomfort, and time, in the future.

The following diseases represent some of the health problems that poor dental hygiene and health can cause to your body:

  • Cardiovascular diseases - Cardiovascular diseases include conditions that affect both the heart and the arteries
  • Endocarditis - This infection occurs in the inner lining of the heart
  • Diabetes - Medical research has discovered a proven connection between diabetes and gum disease
  • Neck and head cancers - Cancer could arise anytime your cells get exposed to toxins and infections

Poor dental health and hygiene can also cause symptoms to worsen if you are pregnant, suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, or autoimmune disorders. Periodontitis is associated with the low weight of birth in infants.

The Advantages of Dental Prophylaxis

Performing dental prophylaxis has the following advantages:

Tartar and Plaque Removal

Plaque and tartar (calculus) buildup both below and above the gum line may cause severe periodontal issues if not treated. Even after applying the best flossing and brushing homecare techniques,  it could still be hard to remove bacteria, deposits, and debris from the gum pockets. Thus, an experienced dentist is needed to use specialized equipment to detect and treat issues like plaque and tartar buildup.

Fresher Breath

The main sign of gum disease is halitosis (persistent bad breath). Generally, bad breath occurs due to a mixture of rotting food bites underneath your gum line, periodontal problems, and potential gangrene arising from gum infections. Removing calculus, bacteria, and plaque alleviates irritation and improves breath noticeably.


It’s hard to have confidence when you smile if you have yellowing and stained teeth. Prophylaxis helps you get rid of the unsightly stains and brighten your smile.

Identifying Health Issues

Your dentist could identify major health problems you have before another physician. Since teeth cleaning or prophylaxis involves an in-depth examination of your entire mouth, our dentists can assess the risk caused by periodontitis. They will also screen for oral cancer, and look for the signs and symptoms of medical issues like kidney problems and diabetes. They can also provide recommendations for changing the regimen you use for home care to enhance your smile and your general dental health.

How Often Do You Need Dental Prophylaxis?

While many people visit their dentists for a dental prophylaxis appointment twice a year, others use a different schedule. In case your gums and teeth are healthy, you may not need to visit your dentist as often. However, if you’ve got a higher risk of having dental diseases, your dentist can recommend frequent dental visits. People included in high-risk categories may have to visit their dentists for prophylaxis after every three or four months.

The high-risk categories of people include those who smoke, suffer from gum disease or are prone to getting dental cavities. Diabetics, people with weak immune systems, or pregnant women might also require more frequent appointments. Ensure your dentist is aware of your health condition to recommend an appropriate prophylaxis appointment schedule.

At Northridge Dentist, we recommend  scheduling a dental cleaning appointment every six months or two times a year as a precautionary measure. If you’ve got periodontal disease, we may suggest teeth cleaning after every three or four months. Even though gum disease can’t be reversed completely, prophylaxis is among the many tools we could use to effectively stop its progression.

What You Should Expect During a Prophylaxis Appointment

Teeth cleaning appointment is a standard, preventive procedure. During this procedure, your oral hygienist could check your medical records to determine if there is any change in your health. During the appointment, the oral hygienist could find it necessary to take x-ray pictures of you. X-rays of bite-wings of your molar and premolar teeth examination are taken each year to establish if you have dental cavities around these places in your mouth. Also, a few dental practices involve taking photos of the anterior incisors as well. This is what you should expect during dental prophylaxis.


An x-ray helps your dentist to discover dental health issues. The ADA (American Dental Association) and the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) came together to set up dental radiographic exam guidelines. It is the x-ray protocol that a dentist recommends the x-ray in his/her office. In case you have perfect dental health and visit your dentist routinely, your dentist might recommend x-rays for you less often than  if you are a patient that is at risk. The factors that dentists consider include your oral health, age, the risk for diseases, and if the patient’s experiencing discomfort or there is already any sign of dental disease.

Periodontal Probing to Measure Tissue Depth

Once your medical history has been updated, and determined if an x-ray is necessary, your oral hygienist will examine the tissues of your gum and do a periodontal probing. He/she will measure how deep your gum tissues are using a periodontal probe. The oral hygienist will also examine your teeth and determine if there is an area of decay. If there is, he/she will bring the decayed area to the dentist’s attention before conducting an in-depth cleaning. Your oral hygienist will utilize specialized instruments (hand and ultrasonic) to remove tartar and plaque from beneath your gum line and teeth. Additionally, the dental hygienist will polish the teeth to get rid of the exterior (extrinsic) tooth stains, then he/she will floss the teeth.

Recommendations for Continuous Oral Care

Your oral hygienist could also recommend steps you can take to care for your teeth and mouth at home. He/she might suggest that you brush your teeth two times a day, use a mouth rinse, and floss once in a day.

After all these, your dentist thoroughly examines your oral cavity, including your gums, teeth, and  parts of your oral cavity for diseases. He/she might check to find out if you have healthy gums by conducting a periodontal probing.

A few patients would require antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent any infections before they go for their appointments. This is mostly recommended for persons with specific heart conditions, for instance, prosthetic cardiac valves. The antibiotics prophylaxis helps prevent the inflammation of the heart’s lining, a condition known as infective endocarditis. A few people that have prosthetic joints might also have to take antibiotic prophylaxis. Your dentist and doctor can tell you if you will need antibiotics before your appointment.

Why Do a Dental Prophylaxis?

If you care for your teeth correctly at home as required,, you could wonder why your dentist recommends  a dental prophylaxis appointment. We have several dental issues that you might fail to notice at the early stages. They might not cause any pain and might not exhibit any visible symptoms or signs. However, a teeth-cleaning appointment could help the dentist in diagnosing these issues at the early stages.

For instance, in the early stages, you might not experience any pain due to cavities. However, when you go for your appointment, the dentist may discover a slight dental cavity and treat it right away before it grows larger and starts causing you pain.

What Prophylaxis Treatment Involves

Prophylaxis can be performed either during your regular visit to the dentist or, if need be, under general anesthetic. A general anesthetic is common, particularly where the dentist suspects severe periodontal disease, or he/she has diagnosed it. Sometimes, an endotracheal tube is placed in a patient’s throat to protect their lungs from dangerous bacteria that will be eliminated from their mouth. Generally, prophylaxis is conducted in multiple stages:

Supragingival Cleaning

Here, the dentist thoroughly cleans the region above your gum line using scaling equipment to remove calculus and plaque. One harmful thing that could arise from teeth scaling is known as periprosthetic joint infection.  The joint infection results from bacteria in the blood (bacteremia). It occurs due to the gum agitation that makes the bacteria move from the oral cavity to the bloodstream.

Several studies have revealed the presence of bacteremia immediately after gum agitation arising after dental processes like dental prophylaxis. But this does not indicate that routine dental cleaning isn’t warranted. There’s the administration of antibiotics before dental treatment takes place for the patients that have recently undergone joint replacement, or those that are otherwise facing the risk of repercussions of bacteremia.

Subgingival Cleaning

This step is the most critical for a patient that has periodontal disease. This is because the dentist will be able to get rid of calculus from underneath the gum line as well as gum pockets.

Root Planing

Root planing is when the dentist smoothens the root of the tooth to remove the remaining bacteria. The bacteria are highly dangerous to patients suffering from periodontitis. Thus, getting rid of them is among the primary priorities of a dentist.


After root planing and scaling, an antimicrobial or antibiotic cream is usually put in the patient’s gum pockets. These kinds of creams promote healthy and fast healing in those pockets and assist in easing discomfort.

Examination and X-ray

Regular x-rays could be significantly revealing when talking about periodontal disease. An x-ray shows the degree of gum and bone recession. It also helps the dentist to identify regions that may require future attention.

Preparing for Prophylaxis

The ideal way to get ready for a dental cleaning preventive oral care appointment is by taking a great everyday care of your mouth and teeth. This could be particularly critical if you’re undergoing treatment for other oral health problems like sleep apnea, implants, or orthodontia.

Making sure that you floss and brush after every meal and using a mouthwash that kills bacteria can reduce the risk of having cavities (dental caries), discolored tooth enamel, and periodontal (gum) disease. Practicing these dental hygiene measures can make sure your teeth cleaning appointment is quick and smooth each time.

Prophylaxis for Children

Minors have specialized needs when it comes to oral care. This is because they are highly susceptible to decay, as well as other dental issues. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that poor dental health is among the most known health conditions during the childhood stage in the U.S.

Often, dental sealants and fluoride are applied during the examination to strengthen the teeth and help prevent tooth decay in children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should have their initial dental appointment as early as one year old. Children that suffer from dental fears and anxiety can visit a pediatric dentist for their prophylaxis appointments.

Pediatric dentists have a specialty in assisting children who have anxiety and fear that relate to dental visits. The main aim of starting prophylaxis early in minors is to help them get accustomed to visiting the dentist earlier on. If this happens, the dentist could administer preventive processes to prevent the decaying of teeth as these children grow.

Risks of Dental Cleaning

The most significant risk associated with dental cleaning is the failure to have it as routinely as possible. Failing to have a prophylaxis appointment could result in:

  • Loss of the connective tissue,
  • Tooth loss,
  • Bone loss, and
  • Heart problems

However, a few people may have additional steps they ought to take before they can have their teeth and mouth undergo cleaning.  For instance, if you take blood-thinning medication, you may need to stop having them for a few days before undergoing your procedure. However, do not decide on this on your own. Follow the instructions of a certified medical professional at all times.

A few patients are most likely to develop certain infections after deep teeth cleaning. In case you:

  • Are suffering from any heart condition,
  • Had anything replaced with a human-made counterpart
  • Suffer from AIDS or liver disease, or
  • If you suffer from any other health condition that may make your immune system weak,

You should inform your dentist before you undergo dental prophylaxis. The dentist will advise on what you should do.

Types of Dental Prophylaxis

The three main types of dental prophylaxis include:

Adult Prophylaxis

Adult prophylaxis is preventive teeth cleaning for persons that generally have healthy oral cavities, no heavy bleeding during cleaning and probing, and no symptoms or signs of periodontitis.

Gross Debridement

Gross debridement is a teeth cleaning procedure that involves the removal of calculus and plaque from the teeth of persons that suffer from periodontal disease.

Root Scaling and Planing

This type of dental prophylaxis is commonly referred to as deep cleaning. It is conducted on persons with mild and moderate periodontitis. Local anesthesia and antibiotic gels are usually used together with root scaling and planing.

After the dentist has conducted a thorough examination and analyzed your x-ray pictures, he/she may notice decay and recommend further treatment like root canals, crowns, or fillings. We at Northridge Dentist may help you to reduce costs on these common dental procedures as well.

Critical Reasons You Should Not Avoid Teeth Cleaning

Teeth cleaning will help you to maintain healthy gums and teeth and detect any early signs and symptoms of gum disease. Patients who don’t go for their prophylaxis appointments usually end up having tartar that accumulates beneath their gum line. After this happens, it will be challenging to get rid of the tartar using regular flossing and brushing. The remaining deposits of tartar beneath the gum line harbor bacteria. The bacteria may cause the bleeding of your gums, bad breath, and irritation of the gum tissue.

There’s a substantiated proof that lingering bacteria in the gums and mouth can enter into the bloodstream and travel all through the body. This may affect the heart and can also contribute to stroke. Patients with an existing disease or heart condition are sometimes needed to take antibiotics one hour before their teeth cleaning procedure. You should always consult with your physician before dental prophylaxis in case you have any of these health conditions.

If dental prophylaxis isn’t provided regularly, gum disease may arise. If you develop periodontitis, you may need to undergo more aggressive cleanings that will cost you a lot of money and jeopardize your well-being.  Patients that develop periodontitis should go for teeth cleaning to prevent the formation of deep pockets around the gums and teeth. Deep pockets around gums and teeth are where there is a bacteria buildup. And if the bacteria is not treated, it may lead to tooth loss or bone loss in the long run.

Find a General Dentist Experienced in Dental Prophylaxis Near Me

At Northridge Dentist, we specialize in providing advanced, cutting-edge approaches for optimal dental health and hygiene. From preventive prophylaxis to advanced cosmetic dentistry, restorative and medical dentistry, we ensure that our patients maintain their beautiful bright smiles. Their teeth remain strong to serve them as long as possible. Our dentists are experts in using dental technology to minimize recovery time, reduce pain, and do away with the need to use invasive techniques like drilling and injection. We have practiced dentistry in Northridge, CA, for many years and have patients undergo dental prophylaxis on a consistent basis. If you need to schedule an appointment, call us today at 818-875-0216 to schedule your consultation and arrange how to conduct the procedure.