Prophylaxis Specialist
Teeth cleaning, also referred to as prophylaxis, is a critical part of taking care of your teeth and gums. In addition to routine brushing and flossing at home, you should have your teeth professionally cleaned by Erik Unger, DDS, a Board Certified Periodontist at Happy Valley Smiles in Glendale, Arizona. He offers thorough teeth cleaning services for people of all ages.

Prophylaxis Q & A

Happy Valley Smiles

What happens during a teeth-cleaning appointment?

Professional dental cleaning has four steps. Once you get settled in the chair, the process begins.


A brief exam is the first part of a dental cleaning. Dr. Unger looks at your teeth and gums to identify any signs of gum disease or areas where tartar has built up. This brief exam assures him it’s safe to carry on with the cleaning. This step does not replace a full dental exam.

Plaque and tartar removal

The next step is to remove tartar and plaque. Dr. Unger uses a dental tool called a scaler to gently scrape tartar and plaque away from the surface of your teeth. You’ll hear scraping and feel some pressure, but his work isn’t painful.


Once the tartar and plaque have been removed, Dr. Unger uses a special gritty toothpaste and a small dental tool to polish each of your teeth. This is the part of the cleaning that leaves your mouth with that fresh, smooth feeling.

Expert flossing

The final step is flossing between your teeth. You should floss your teeth every day, but Dr. Unger will carefully and thoroughly do it as well. He’ll also show you how you can floss at home more effectively.

Why is it important to have professional teeth cleaning regularly?

Even with the best at-home oral hygiene habits, your teeth benefit from a professional cleaning. Your dentist is able to access your teeth more effectively than you can at home.

Plaque and tartar buildup, even with daily brushing and flossing, and a professional cleaning removes it all, protecting your teeth from damage and decay.

Cleanings are also an opportunity for the dentist to check your teeth for signs of decay and damage.

How often should I have my teeth professionally cleaned?

The American Dental Association urges you to have your teeth cleaned professionally twice a year. However, if you have gum disease or other issues, Dr. Unger suggests more frequent cleanings. Everyone’s needs are unique, and Dr. Unger tailors his dental treatments to meet those specific needs.

If you are due for professional teeth cleaning, call or make an appointment online today.

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