In layman’s terms, prophylaxis is a preventative dental cleaning in which dental tools and polishing procedures are used to remove plaque, tartar and stains above the gumline. Most dentists and hygienists recommend a professional dental cleaning at least twice a year, and x-rays once a year. A periodic exam is also usually performed at these visits.
Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. The bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed and pull away from your teeth, forming spaces that are called pockets. When bacteria and tartar accumulate around and under the gums, the tissues that support your teeth may be also be affected. If left untreated, periodontal disease can develop, which may lead to bone and tooth loss.