3-21. POLISHING WITH PROPHYLAXIS PASTE
a. General. Commercially available prophylaxis preparations come in a variety
of forms--pastes, powders, or tablets. For those preparations requiring mixing before
use, refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
b. Use. The paste cleans best when it is thick, resembling window putty. If the
mixture is too dry, water may be added one drop at a time. Avoid adding too much
water. A thin mixture will not clean properly. If the mixture is too thin, small particles of
zirconium silicate may work into the handpiece and cause premature wear. When
zirconium silicate is used, the handpiece should be cleaned after each use to minimize
damage. Rubber cups are used on facial and lingual surfaces. Unwaxed dental floss or
tape is used on proximal surfaces. Stiff-bristled prophylaxis brushes are used on
occlusal surfaces and in pits and fissures. Each surface is polished a full 10 seconds.
The major protective effect of these compounds is the prevention or arrest of proximal
c. Precautions. When polishing with prophylaxis paste, certain precautions are
(1) Concern about swallowing. Care should be taken to prevent swallowing
or trickling of prophylaxis paste into the patient's pharynx. This causes gagging or
(2) Inflammation after scaling. If acute inflammation is present after scaling,
polishing should be delayed until the inflammation resolves.
(3) Injury of soft tissues. Care should be used to avoid injuring soft tissues
(4) Frequent rinsing. During prophylaxis, frequent and thorough rinsing
should be carried out to prevent prolonged contact of paste with gingival tissues.
Prolonged contact can cause blanching of the tissues.