The dental industry refers to a dental cleaning as a “dental prophylaxis” or “prophy.” For many patients it is likely to be the most important and valuable visit they may ever make to a dentist.
The prophy should include:
A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
A color change of the oral tissues
A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
A change in the way the teeth fit together
The dental exam is the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health. A crucial component of the prophy is the removal of calculus from teeth. Calculus, which is Plaque combining with saliva minerals forms a hard, rough sediment known as dental tartar or calculus. If the calculus is not removed, further calculi will buildup causing periodontal disease. Calculus can be removed by a licensed dental hygienist utilizing either a manual or ultrasonic device. If an ultrasonic scaler is utilized to remove heavy tartar and stains, caution must be exercised for patients with pacemakers as the ultrasonic sounds may interfere with the function of the pacemaker.