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Oral prophylaxis is a dental procedure that removes tartar and plaque build-up from the teeth through polishing and scaling. It is different from teeth bleaching procedures because its purpose is to stop tooth decay or periodontal disease or staining. It could also be recommended for someone getting braces or other orthodontic work. Since braces make it hard to clean the teeth and gums, many people believe that starting out with very clean teeth will make it easier to maintain them during the time the braces are worn.

Through the process, the dental assistant (for children) or hygienist normally cleans under the gums and the surface of the teeth. Sonic scalers deliver water and compressed air through a hose into a handheld unit.Untrasonic scalers use energy waves to clean the build-up. Although they can be noisy and rather expensive, the ultrasonic scalers work to make the cleaning procedure shorter and more comfortable for the patient.

Oral prophylaxis is not recommended as a substitute for brushing or flossing your teeth, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis. There are some at-home tools that can help people maintain their teeth and gums, as well. Electronic or sonic toothbrushes are generally inexpensive and can help keep plaque and tartar build-up to a minimum. An oral irrigator may also work to maintain the teeth and gums.

 The objectives of the periodic professional prophylaxis  are:
1. instruct the caregiver and child or adolescent in proper oral hygiene techniques;
2. remove microbial plaque and calculus;
3. polish hard surfaces to minimize the accumulation and retention of plaque;
4. remove extrinsic stain;
5. facilitate the examination of hard and soft tissues;
6. introduce dental procedures to the young child and apprehensive patient.

In addition to establishing the need for a prophylaxis, the clinician should determine the most appropriate type of prophylaxis for each patient. The practitioner should select the least aggressive technique that fulfills the goals of the procedure. To minimize loss of the fluoride-rich layer of enamel during polishing, the least abrasive paste should be used with light pressure.
If a rubber cup/pumice prophylaxis is performed, a topical fluoride application is recommended.
A patient’s risk for caries/periodontal disease, as determined by the patient’s dental provider, should help determine
the interval of the prophylaxis. Patients who exhibit higher risk for developing caries and/or periodontal disease should have recall visits at intervals more frequent than every 6 months.
This allows increased professional fluoride therapy application, microbial monitoring, antimicrobial therapy reapplication, and reevaluating behavioral changes for effectiveness. An individualized preventive plan increases the probability of good oral health by demonstrating proper oral hygiene methods and techniques and removing plaque, stain, calculus, and the factors that influence their build-up.