What three things are removed during a prophylaxis?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

During a prophylaxis, three main things are typically removed: calculus, bacteria, and plaque. Let’s delve into each of these components and understand why their removal is crucial for treating halitosis.

1. Calculus: Also known as tartar, calculus is a hard deposit that forms on the teeth due to the mineralization of plaque. It can accumulate both above and below the gum line, making it difficult to remove with regular brushing and flossing alone. Calculus provides an ideal surface for bacteria to thrive, leading to persistent bad breath. During a prophylaxis, a dental professional uses specialized tools like scalers and ultrasonic devices to gently scrape away the calculus from the teeth, effectively eliminating one of the major causes of halitosis.

2. Bacteria: The oral cavity is home to numerous bacteria, some of which are harmless, while others can contribute to bad breath. These bacteria break down food particles, saliva, and other substances in the mouth, releasing foul-smelling gases as byproducts. Regular oral hygiene practices may not completely eradicate these bacteria, especially in hard-to-reach areas. During a prophylaxis, the dental professional thoroughly cleans the teeth, gums, and tongue, removing the bacteria that are responsible for producing malodorous compounds. This helps to significantly reduce halitosis and improve overall oral health.

3. Plaque: Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth and contains a combination of bacteria, food debris, and saliva. If not removed regularly, plaque can harden into calculus and contribute to gum disease and bad breath. Brushing and flossing are essential for plaque removal, but sometimes it can accumulate in areas that are difficult to clean effectively. During a prophylaxis, the dental professional meticulously removes plaque from all tooth surfaces, including those hard-to-reach areas, using specialized instruments. By eliminating plaque, the likelihood of halitosis is greatly reduced.

It is important to note that a prophylaxis is not a one-time solution for halitosis. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices at home, such as regular brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash, is crucial for preventing the recurrence of bad breath. Additionally, addressing any underlying dental or medical conditions that may contribute to halitosis is necessary for long-term management.

In my personal experience as a dental professional, I have witnessed the positive impact of prophylaxis in treating halitosis. Patients who regularly undergo prophylaxis and maintain good oral hygiene habits often report a significant improvement in their breath freshness. It is always advisable to consult with a dental professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to individual needs.