Prophy (Regular Cleanings)
A prophy includes a series of procedures where plaque, calculus, and stain are removed from all surfaces of the teeth above the gumline. This is done with hand instruments, ultrasonic scalers, and coronal polishing. Only a licensed dental professional is qualified to determine the need for oral prophylaxis. Only a dentist, dental hygienist, and trained dental assistant can perform the procedure.
A periodontal maintenance procedure (PMP) is defined as a procedure that is recommended following periodontal treatment (such as scaling and root planing) and continues at varying intervals, determined by the clinical evaluation of the dentist.
These intervals can be as frequent as every two months and they can be extended as long as six months, depending on the patient. Keeping up you're your PMP interval is important because periodontal disease can recur without adequate follow up.
PMP includes removal of plaque and tartar above and below the gums, scaling and root planing of specific areas, and polishing. PMP is always completed following active periodontal treatment such as scaling and root planing or more extensive gum surgery.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and Root Planing is a special type of treatment that goes deeper below the gumline to remove contaminated debris and bacteria, most often performed on patients with active periodontitis.
This seems to be a procedure that causes so much confusion for patients in trying to understand the difference between a professional cleaning and Scaling and Root Planing, and the reasons for this procedure.
Scaling and Root Planing is done to remove soft sticky plaque and hard crusty calculus that is loaded with bacteria, around and below the gumline on root surfaces. A professional polishing or prophy removes only the soft sticky plaque and hard crusty calculus that is above the gumline on the crown of the tooth. It is a method of treating gum disease when pockets formed around the teeth have a measurement of greater than 3mm and there is evidence of bleeding and tissue attachment loss.
How you care for your teeth and gums at home after treatment is critical to reduce the risk of recurring periodontal disease.