Periodontal Maintenance

Why Periodontal Maintenance?

  • Keep periodontal disease from returning
  • Keep teeth and gums healthy

What is Periodontal Maintenance?

Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, Dr. Andow and your dental hygienist will recommend that you change from a professional teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) every 4-6 months to a periodontal maintenance every 3 months. So, why the change?

Professional Cleaning or Prophylaxis

A prophylaxis is recommended for patients who have healthy mouths. There is no gum bleeding, no gum pocket measurements over 3 millimeters and no loose teeth. These patients have healthy gum tissues (pink in color) and exhibit excellent homecare. A prophylaxis removes soft plaque, hard tartar and stains from the teeth above the gum line. A prophylaxis is routinely done 2 to 3 times a year, depending on how quickly stain, plaque, and tartar accumulate. A prophylaxis is considered a preventive procedure, since it will help prevent periodontal disease.

Periodontal Maintenance Therapy

Periodontal disease results in bleeding gums, bone loss, gum pocket measurements deeper than 3 millimeters and exposed root surfaces. Once periodontal treatment (root planing) is complete, continued work is needed eliminate the periodontal disease by stopping its progression. This is done by changing homecare habits and returning to our office for prescribed periodontal maintenance therapy. A prophylaxis every 4-6 months is not appropriate to treat this disease. Periodontal maintenance will include the removal of the bacterial flora (plaque and tartar) from above and below the gum line, all the way down the length of each tooth to where the root, gum, and bone meet.

In addition to periodontal maintenance, this appointment will include:

  • Periodontal evaluation
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Visual examination for tooth decay
  • Evaluation of your existing restorations
  • Scale and polish all your teeth
  • Irrigate your inflamed pockets with an antimicrobial medication
  • Review your plaque control efficiency: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed. (Electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.
  • Bite evaluation: Check your bite for wear on the teeth and receding gums and check your jaw movements for proper jaw function.
  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss that can't be seen by the naked eye.

Why is Periodontal Maintenance Important?

The first 12 months following periodontal treatment (root planing) is extremely critical to making continued progress. Periodontal disease is not curable, but it is controllable, similar to diabetes. The bad bacteria that has been causing the gum disease has been removed. However, please be aware that the pathogens can quickly multiply and rise up again causing more tissue destruction and bone loss. Periodontal maintenance will be necessary to control and maintain gum and bone health. Dr. Andow recommends close monitoring over the next 12 months to make sure periodontal health remains stable. From published research and our experience in treating this diseases, Dr. Andow has learned that maintenance visits should be no more than 3 months apart.

The Benefits of Periodontal Maintenance

Periodontal maintenance is the only sure way to keep periodontal disease from returning. It only takes 24 hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar). Daily home care helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention. Good oral hygiene practices and periodontal maintenance visits are essential in maintaining your dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control!

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