Why Your Child Needs Professional Dental Cleanings

At Pediatric Dentistry of Brandon, FL, we pay close attention to preventive dental care. A periodic professional dental cleaning (called a “prophylaxis” or “prophy”) is one of the most important parts of preventive care. A prophy appointment should be scheduled twice a year (every six months) unless one of our dentists recommends your child be seen more often to get dental disease or gum disease under control.

At each prophy appointment, the goals are to:

  1. remove dental plaque and tartar (also known as calculus),
  2. polish the surfaces of the tooth to minimize the accumulation of dental plaque,
  3. remove stains from the surfaces of teeth,
  4. examine the teeth and soft tissue of the mouth for signs of disease,
  5. provide oral hygiene instruction to the child and parent or guardian caregiver, and
  6. recommend to the parent or caregiver treatment for eliminating any present disease.

Dental plaque fosters the development of dental cavities and gum inflammation. You want to get rid of plaque and prevent its development. Each periodic dental cleaning in our office, removes dental plaque, reduces oral bacteria, and makes teeth surfaces smoother so plaque development is slowed down.

What is dental plaque?

Plaque is a sticky substance made up of saliva, bacteria, and food debris. Certain bacteria in dental plaque produce an acid as they feed on the carbohydrates we eat. This acid erodes away dental enamel to cause dental cavities and also irritates gum tissue. As gum tissue pulls away from teeth to get away from the irritation, gum pockets start to develop. In these pockets, more bacteria can colonize, creating a cycle of inflammation that infects the teeth and gums.

Plaque begins to develop and cling to teeth within 4 to 12 hours of brushing. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly brush teeth as least twice a day and floss them at least once a day. Despite your best efforts, some plaque will cling to teeth within a few months of the last professional dental cleaning. When crystals grow within plaque that remains on teeth, the plaque hardens into calculus. This “tartar” traps stains on teeth making them yellow.

Every six months or sooner, most children begin to develop sufficient plaque and some calculus to put their teeth at higher risk for dental cavities and gingivitis (gum inflammation). If you notice teeth becoming yellow, holes developing in teeth, or gum tissue becoming red and puffy (or bleeding when teeth brushing), call us immediately— (813) 685-0804. Even if you have a future appointment scheduled, it will be prudent to have your child rescheduled and seen as soon as possible.