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Your guide to the dental prophylaxis – What it is, how it works, and why it matters

Proactive, regular visits to our Sterling, Virginia practice are a cornerstone of quality care at Abel, Phan & Associates. The standard appointment is scheduled bi-annually. For patients at elevated risk of developing conditions such as gum disease, our dentists, Drs Anna Abel and Chuong Phan, recommend consistent visits more frequently than at 6-month intervals.

Dental prophylaxis (“prophy”) is fundamental to these visits. The term may sound like a mouthful, but it simply refers to the professional cleaning service. Professional cleanings by our skilled dental hygienists remove what you can’t remove with a toothbrush and floss: stubborn, hardened plaque (tartar). They use special tools to remove surface stains, bacteria, plaque, and tartar on the teeth and at the gum line. Since our team is so well-trained in using these tools and techniques, the process is gentle and precise. Once our hygienists assure these harmful substances are removed, a special brush is used to scrub and polish painlessly. That achieves a deep clean and supports fresh breath, white teeth, and a refreshed feeling in your mouth!

Lingering plaque or products used during the cleaning are removed with floss. At this time, our team can also discuss products and techniques to make flossing and cleaning your teeth at home easier and more effective.

During this visit, a dental probe is also used to carefully measure the sizes of the pockets or spaces between the teeth and gums. These measurements tell us a lot about the health of your gums (gingival tissue). As progressive gum disease worsens, these spaces grow larger. Depending on what we find, deep cleaning or scaling and root planing may be recommended to resolve active disease and restore gingival health. We also check for and discuss any potential trouble signs. These may include abnormalities, such as white patches or lumps, which may warrant further investigation to rule out precancers and cancerous lesions.

The prophy visit is further combined with a comprehensive dental exam by Drs Abel or Phan. Our dentists can also check that any dental restorations or appliances you wear are in good working order during these regular appointments. Preventive services, like applying dental sealants, can be administered at this time.

As you can see, a lot is accomplished efficiently within a single preventive visit or check-up. These visits go a long way to maintaining the health and beauty of your smile and your overall wellbeing. We depend on our mouths so much for critical functions and comfort.

If oral health suffers, the rest of us suffers, too! So, let’s get you back into a healthy routine or keep you on the right track. Call (571) 450-9848 to schedule an appointment at Abel, Phan & Associates in Sterling/Potomac Falls.