The Step-by-Step Guide to a Prophylaxis: What Happens During a Teeth Cleaning

Posted by PEAK CITY FAMILY DENTISTRY on May 13 2024, 08:22 AM

Welcome to Apex Dental Care, where we believe that a healthy smile begins with a thorough prophylaxis. If you've ever wondered what really happens during a teeth cleaning, you're in the right place. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of prophylaxis and answer common questions along the way. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about the importance of regular teeth cleanings for your oral health!

What Happens During a Teeth Cleaning

Step 1: Assessment and Medical History

During the initial step of a prophylaxis appointment in Apex, your dental hygienist will conduct a thorough assessment and discuss your medical history. This crucial information allows them to tailor the cleaning process to address any specific concerns or conditions you may have.

The assessment typically includes examining your teeth and gums for signs of plaque buildup, cavities, or gum disease. Your hygienist may also inquire about any medications you are taking that could impact your oral health.

Providing accurate details about your medical history ensures that the cleaning procedure is safe and effective for you. It's essential to communicate any changes in your health since your last visit to prevent potential complications during the cleaning.

Remember, this step sets the foundation for a successful teeth cleaning session by allowing the dental team to personalize their approach based on your individual needs. Be proactive in sharing pertinent information with them for optimal results.

Step 2: Scaling and Root Planing

During the second step of a teeth cleaning procedure, known as scaling and root planing, the dental hygienist uses special tools to remove plaque and tartar buildup from the surfaces of your teeth and along the gumline. This process helps prevent gum disease by eliminating bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection.

Scaling involves scraping off hardened deposits on the tooth surfaces, while root planing smooths out rough areas on the roots to discourage bacterial growth. Although this step may sound intimidating, it is essential for maintaining optimal oral health.

The hygienist will carefully navigate around each tooth, ensuring thorough removal of any debris or calculus. By addressing these issues early on, you can prevent more serious dental problems down the road.

Scaling and root planing are crucial components of a comprehensive prophylaxis appointment. By undergoing this deep cleaning process regularly, you can keep your smile healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Step 3: Polishing and Flossing

With the scaling and root planing complete, your teeth are now ready for the polishing and flossing stage. The dental hygienist will use a special tool to remove any remaining plaque and stains on the surface of your teeth. This process helps to make your teeth smoother and shinier, improving both their appearance and feel.

After polishing, it's time for flossing. Flossing is crucial in removing any leftover debris between your teeth that brushing alone can't reach. The hygienist will carefully guide the floss between each tooth, ensuring a thorough clean in those tight spaces.

This step not only leaves your teeth looking sparkling clean but also plays a significant role in preventing cavities and gum disease. By regularly incorporating proper flossing techniques into your oral hygiene routine, you can maintain optimal dental health between visits to the dentist in Apex.

Step 4: Fluoride Treatment

After the thorough cleaning and polishing, the dental hygienist may proceed with the fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that helps strengthen your enamel and prevent tooth decay.

The fluoride treatment typically involves applying a fluoride gel or foam to your teeth using a tray or brush. It only takes a few minutes but can have long-lasting benefits for your oral health.

Once applied, you will be asked to avoid eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes to allow the fluoride to fully penetrate your enamel. This step adds an extra layer of protection to keep your teeth strong and healthy between cleanings.

Fluoride treatments are especially beneficial for children, as their developing teeth can greatly benefit from this added protection against cavities. Adults can also benefit from fluoride treatments in maintaining good oral health over time.

Common Questions About Prophylaxis

Curious about what happens during a teeth cleaning? Here are some common questions you might have about prophylaxis.

  • Wondering if teeth cleanings hurt? Fear not, as the process is typically painless and comfortable for most patients. The dental hygienist will ensure you're at ease throughout the procedure.
  • Concerned about how long a teeth cleaning takes? On average, a routine prophylaxis appointment lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. However, this can vary based on individual oral health needs.
  • Interested in knowing how often you should get your teeth cleaned? It's generally recommended to schedule a professional cleaning every six months to maintain optimal oral health and prevent potential issues down the line.

Not sure if insurance covers prophylaxis? Many dental insurance plans include coverage for preventive services like regular cleanings, making it affordable for patients to stay on top of their oral hygiene. Call us to learn more.

Benefits of Regular Teeth Cleanings

  • Regular teeth cleanings offer numerous benefits beyond just a sparkling smile. By removing plaque and tartar buildup, cleanings help prevent cavities and gum disease. This can save you from costly dental treatments down the line.
  • Moreover, a professional cleaning can reach areas that regular brushing and flossing may miss, ensuring a thorough removal of bacteria. This not only promotes oral health but contributes to overall well-being by reducing the risk of systemic diseases linked to oral infections.
  • Additionally, fresh breath is a pleasant side effect of cleanings as they eliminate odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. The confidence boost from having a healthy mouth is undeniable – it can positively impact your social interactions and self-esteem.

In essence, prioritizing regular teeth cleanings isn't just about aesthetics; it's an investment in your health and quality of life.


Getting a prophylaxis in Apex is essential for maintaining good oral health. The step-by-step guide we provided gives you an insight into what happens during a teeth cleaning procedure. From assessing your medical history to scaling and root planing, polishing, flossing, and fluoride treatment, each step plays a crucial role in keeping your smile healthy and bright.

Regular teeth cleanings not only help prevent dental issues but also contribute to overall well-being by reducing the risk of systemic diseases linked to poor oral hygiene. So don't skip those biannual appointments – your teeth will thank you for it! Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to oral health. Schedule your next prophylaxis appointment today, and keep smiling confidently!

Visit Peak City Family Dentistry at 200 W Chatham St., Apex 27502, or call (919) 362-8797 to learn more.

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200 W Chatham St., Apex 27502

Phone: (919) 362-8797

Fax: (919) 362-1476

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Tuesday : By appointments only.

Wednesday : By appointments only.

Thursday : By appointments only.

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Phone: (919) 362-8797