In dental terminology, a regular cleaning is a prophylaxis, and is done to prevent dental problems, such as gum disease and bone loss. It involves the removal of plaque, calculus, and stains from the tooth surfaces. This procedure is effective for tooth structures that have not been affected by bone loss, periodontal disease or infection.
Dental instruments that scrape away deposits of plaque and tartar from the teeth are used. These may be manual or an electric device, called an ultra-sonic or sonic scaler. It is typically done on the crowns (the visible part of the teeth). Dentists recommend having this done every six months, besides following through with a daily oral hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing.