Prophylaxis (professional cleaning) in Petaluma, CA
“Prophylaxis” refers to those actions that are taken to prevent disease. It is derived from the Greek word prophylaktikós, which means “to keep guard” or “to protect.” As it relates to dentistry, prophylaxis or “prophy” is a professional cleaning. This cleaning occurs during routine visits to the North Bay Smiles office in Petaluma, CA. The American Dental Association generally recommends that these visits occur once every six months. These regular appointments are a cornerstone of oral health and overall well-being. Our skilled professionals remove hardened plaque (tartar or calculus) that can’t be removed with home techniques and OTC oral care products.
Additionally, Dr. Szyperski examines your teeth, gums, and other oral structures. She uses her considerable knowledge as well as sophisticated diagnostics to proactively detect underlying conditions. In their earliest stages, oral conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay are asymptomatic, or the symptoms are subtle. They can lurk undetected. But the earlier we can catch those problems, the faster we can intervene with prompt care. Generally, treatment that resolves earlier-stage erosion, decay, or periodontal inflammation, is a conservative, non-traumatic, fast, and comparatively affordable alternative to restorative treatment to rebuild a very damaged tooth or rebuild gum tissue.
What to expect
X-rays (radiographs) are pictures of your teeth, gums, and other tissues. They help us to identify any problems in “hidden” areas, for instance, that cannot be detected with visual inspection alone. We will also discuss any health changes that have occurred in the past six months or since the last time we saw you. These changes may include new medical diagnoses and/or new medications prescribed to manage those conditions.
Our hygienists will then use a specialized instrument, a dental probe, to measure the depth of the pockets or spaces between the teeth and gums. These pockets grow larger as gum disease progresses. They provide clues as to the health of your gums and the extent of existing gum disease. These measurements also help to inform an effective treatment plan, as treatments to resolve early-stage disease (gingivitis) are different from those of advanced disease (periodontitis). Afterward, we will examine your teeth. Our skilled hygienist team will alert the doctor to any trouble areas. Dr. Szyperski’s judgement, when combined with X-rays and other diagnostic tools, will be used to make an accurate diagnosis.
At this point, specialized instruments are applied to remove surface stains, bacteria, plaque, and tartar on the teeth and at the gumline. Stubborn plaque cannot be removed with a toothbrush or floss. And, if plaque isn’t removed, it builds up and irritates gummy tissue and erodes the hard tissues (teeth).
Before and After
Our hygienists are also skilled at thoroughly and safely flossing the teeth. As these steps are performed, we will discuss ways to clean your teeth, gums, tongue, and other surfaces that attract bacteria more effectively and easily. We may recommend specialized oral care products; for instance, interdental brushes and floss threaders can get up underneath bridges or other hard-to-clean spaces. Likewise, we are big proponents of OraCare™ mouth rinse to kill pathogens that contribute to oral disease. The last step in the process is that coveted polishing! Our patients love how minty-fresh and clean their teeth feel afterward.
A note on personalized care
During these visits, we may also apply preventive products. For example, fluoride supplementation can be beneficial to remineralize the teeth and build a tooth’s protective “armor”: enamel. Other preventive services may be discussed or administered, such as dental sealants to protect decay-prone back teeth or molars. Depending on what we find during your cleaning and examination, a deep cleaning may be in your future. This treatment is known as “scaling and root planing.” It involves removing plaque and other nasties from underneath the gumline and smoothing out the root surfaces of the teeth. Rough surfaces tend to attract plaque.
Depending on your risk factors, we may want to examine and clean your mouth more frequently if oral disease is present. Oral cancer screenings also accompany these visits. Dentists are often on the front lines of detecting these cancers. As with other types of cancer, the earlier we can identify and intervene with these cancers, the more effectively and non-traumatically we can treat them. This means many more happy, healthy years for you or a loved one.
Contact us today to schedule your prophylaxis appointment at North Bay Smiles.