Dental prophylaxis (cleaning) by a dental hygienist at specified intervals is intended to remove plaque, calculus (mineralized plaque) and stains that still develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult for people to clean at home. A typical maintenance cleaning for a healthy person includes scaling with hand instruments and tooth polishing.
For someone who has not had dental care for an extended period of time, or who tends to accumulate heavy deposits and staining, mechanized ultrasonic instruments may be used. This is a device that uses high frequency vibration and water spray to remove deposits from the teeth.
For most healthy people, having the teeth professionally cleaned twice annually will suffice. More frequent cleaning and examination may be necessary for those whose home care is poor, who have rapid accumulation of plaque and calculus or have deep periodontal pockets due to periodontitis.
Between cleanings by a dental hygienist, good oral hygiene practices that thoroughly remove plaque and stimulate the oral tissues are essential for preventing decay, gingivitis and periodontal disease.