Home Dental Care Dental prophylaxis: What is it & how does it work?

Dental prophylaxis: What is it & how does it work?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 317 views

Strong and healthy teeth into old age – if you practice dental prophylaxis regularly throughout your life , you can often fulfill this dream. This not only saves you the cost of expensive dentures, but also avoids time-consuming and often painful caries and periodontitis treatments. Read here what is part of a complete and effective dental prophylaxis!

What is dental prophylaxis?

Dental prophylaxis includes all preventive measures intended to prevent the teeth and periodontium from becoming diseased or from getting worse.

On the one hand, with a daily dental care routine and a balanced lifestyle, you can help to keep your teeth healthy. On the other hand, regular check-ups at the dentist and professional tooth cleaning for dental prophylaxis.

Why dental prophylaxis is important

Millions of bacteria live in our mouth. Many of them are useful, for example for the digestive process. However, some can seriously endanger our health. These harmful microorganisms feed on the sugar in our food and turn it into acid. The acid attacks the tooth enamel and makes it porous in the long run, right down to the dreaded caries hole.

The gums can also become diseased due to bacteria – chronic inflammation such as periodontitis or gingivitis can damage other organs of the body in the long term as well as the oral cavity. Fortunately, no one is helplessly at the mercy of this – on the contrary: With comprehensive dental prophylaxis, you can effectively prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

You can read more about tooth decay in the article Caries. You can find comprehensive information on inflammation of the periodontium in the article on periodontitis

Dental prophylaxis – what you can do yourself

Caries and periodontitis bacteria are mainly found in plaque, a mixture of leftover food and dead cells. In order to get rid of them, you have to remove this coating again and again, because it forms again after every meal.

brush your teeth properly

A cornerstone of dental prophylaxis is daily thorough dental care at home. First and foremost, this means brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a suitable toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste .

You can find out how to clean your teeth properly in the article on brushing your teeth

dental floss

You should also thoroughly clean the spaces between your teeth once a day. These bottlenecks usually remain inaccessible to the toothbrush. Many people use waxed or unwaxed dental floss to floss between teeth .

You can read about how to handle the soft nylon thread correctly in the article on dental floss . About the use of small brushes for Z

interdental brushes

An alternative to dental floss are interdental brushes . They look like small bottle brushes and are particularly suitable for cleaning larger spaces between teeth.

You can find out more about the handling and advantages of the small brushes in the article on interdental brushes .


A mouthwash can be a sensible addition to oral hygiene with a toothbrush, dental floss or interdental brushes . This should contain either a tin/amine fluoride compound or chlorhexidine. Because only these substances have a proven germicidal effect and are therefore suitable for tooth decay prevention.

Under Mouthwash you can read how the rinsing solution works, when it is recommended and what you should pay attention to .

Eat and drink tooth-friendly

In addition to dental care at home, you can do even more to effectively prevent tooth decay and periodontitis (obsolete: periodontal disease). Prophylaxis can be significantly supported with a tooth-healthy diet:

  • Firm foods such as grain products, vegetables, fruit and salad are good for the teeth because they need to be chewed thoroughly and for a long time. This stimulates the flow of saliva and thus the acid neutralization in the mouth.
  • You should avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Because these provide the harmful oral bacteria with food and thus promote acid production. If you do get cravings, you should better choose products with sugar substitutes for the sake of your teeth.
  • Fruit juices are also not optimal for dental health due to the acid they contain. You should therefore only consume these drinks in moderation and rinse your       mouth out with water afterwards.

Get enough fluoride

Scientific studies show that fluoride protects teeth from tooth decay. For this reason, dentists recommend cleaning your teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride for effective dental prophylaxis. Other sources of fluoride are fluoridated salts or mineral water. However, you should make sure that the total intake is not too high, otherwise there is a risk of overdose.

What exactly fluoride is, how it works against tooth decay and whether the regular use of fluoride is associated with risks can be read in the article Fluoride in toothpaste

Avoid being overweight

Fat cells produce inflammatory substances. Therefore, overweight people have an increased risk of developing periodontitis. Therefore, for the sake of dental prophylaxis, make sure you have a healthy body weight. The rest of the body also benefits from this – overweight increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and arthrosis, among other things.

Do not smoke

Smokers also have an increased risk of developing periodontitis. Because nicotine constricts the blood vessels in the mouth. As a result, the gums are less well supplied with blood, which in turn weakens the resistance to invading bacteria. In addition, nicotine can accelerate the breakdown of the jawbone in the case of an existing periodontitis.

Treat diseases that promote periodontitis

The risk of developing periodontitis increases with a weakened immune system. Therefore, for dental prophylaxis, you should strengthen your immune system with a balanced, vitamin-rich diet and regular exercise.

Studies have also shown that diabetes and osteoporosis promote gum disease. As a diabetic, you should therefore make sure that your blood sugar levels are well adjusted. Osteoporosis patients can prevent periodontitis by taking calcium and vitamin D.

Dental prophylaxis – what the dentist does

In addition to dental care at home, comprehensive dental prophylaxis includes regular visits to the dentist. You should do prophylaxis twice a year: This allows the dentist to identify and treat caries and other dental problems at an early stage. The costs for the six-monthly check-ups are covered by the health insurance companies.

Children are also entitled to dental check-ups. From the age of two and a half years up to the age of six, they are entitled to three examinations for dental prophylaxis. After that, the health insurers pay the costs for six-monthly dental prophylaxis examinations, as they do for adults.

Check-ups for dental prophylaxis

During the dental prophylaxis examinations, the dentist takes a close look at the teeth and gums using a mirror and tooth hook – he is looking for signs of caries and periodontitis. If he finds what he is looking for, he can immediately initiate appropriate treatment so that the disease does not spread further.

In addition, as part of the dental prophylaxis, the doctor assesses your individual risk of caries and periodontitis based on your diet and toothbrushing habits as well as existing chronic diseases. He can also give you advice on how best to reduce your risk.

He or she may recommend fluoridation of the teeth with special gels or varnishes for dental prophylaxis. This protects the teeth from caries in the long term. This fluoridation is done in the dentist’s office.

fissure sealing

For dental prophylaxis, especially in children, dentists also use fissure sealing. Fissures are small tears and crevices. Sealing them on the chewing surfaces of the molars, which are particularly at risk of caries, protects the child’s teeth from the penetration of caries bacteria.     

Professional tooth cleaning (PZR)

Toothbrush and dental floss don’t go everywhere. Some places in the mouth are so difficult to access that they can only be cleaned using professional instruments in the dental practice. It also removes stubborn deposits in difficult places in the mouth. For effective dental prophylaxis, many experts recommend a PZR twice a year. Some health insurance companies cover at least part of the costs for this form of dental prophylaxis.

You can find out exactly how a PZR works and when the treatment makes sense in the article Professional tooth cleaning .

Dental prophylaxis in babies and children

Dental prophylaxis is also very important for children. Measures include:

  • careful dental care from the very first tooth
  • adequate supply of fluoride
  • balanced, healthy diet
  • Regular dental check-ups and preventive care

You can find out more about brushing teeth for babies and children in this article.

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