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Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth.  Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis.

Periodontal disease and gingivitis occur when bacteria from plaque colonize on the gingival (gum) tissue, either above or below the gum line.  These bacteria colonies cause  inflammation and irritation which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body.  As a result, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out.  The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and house more bacteria which may travel via the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.

Reasons for prophylaxis/teeth cleaning

Prophylaxis is an excellent procedure to help keep the oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of gum disease.

Here are some of the benefits of prophylaxis:

  • Tartar removal – Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated.  Even using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets.  
  • Aesthetics – It’s hard to feel confident about a smile marred by yellowing, stained teeth.  Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains.
  • Fresher breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis).  Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line and possible bacterial infection causing unhealthy gum tissues.   The removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation.

What does prophylaxis treatment involve?

Prophylaxis is usually performed in a single visit by the hygienist.  It is the thorough removal of plaque and tartar that is present above the gumline followed by the polishing of the tooth surfaces.   If plaque is present below the gumline, then root planing may be required. 

Prophylaxis is generally recommended twice annually as a preventative measure, but may be necessary  every 3-4 months for patients who tend to build up plaque more readily.   

If you have questions or concerns about prophylaxis or periodontal disease, please ask Dr. Ko.


Dr. John H. Ko is proud to bring his patients leading-edge dentistry. Dr. Ko and his entire team are dedicated to providing you with excellent, personalized care and service to make your visits as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Dr. Ko is dedicated to excellence in general, family & cosmetic dentistry, offering quality and gentle dental care in a stress free environment for adults, teens, and children in Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, Castro Valley and the surrounding Alameda County communities.

Our beautiful office is conveniently located at 5720 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 200, Pleasanton, CA 94588.

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