Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that is never completely cured.  Periodontal disease is similar to diabetes and high blood pressure in that continual monitoring is needed to ensure health.  In addition, consistent home care with brushing and flossing is needed to prevent a re-occurrence of active disease. Therefore, you will need more frequent cleanings and follow up than other patients. Studies have shown that bacteria which cause periodontal disease start to re-appear in the mouth in as little as three months after a dental cleaning.

Who will perform the maintenance therapy?

Maintenance therapy is usually shared by the periodontist and your dentist. The more severe cases of periodontal disease will require more involvement with the periodontist and their hygiene staff.

What happens at a periodontal maintenance visit?

After a medical history review and oral cancer screening, a thorough evaluation and examination will be performed by both the hygienist and periodontist to determine if periodontal health is being maintained.  Any areas of bleeding or negative changes in the gum tissue will be noted and then given special attention during the cleaning. Periodontal maintenance visits are usually 60 minutes in length and a good thorough cleaning and polishing is performed.  In addition, your home care will be reviewed with any personal suggestions for improving your periodontal health.  Any needed x-rays may be updated during this visit and medications may also be recommended to prevent tooth decay or decrease tooth sensitivity.

What is the ideal frequency for periodontal maintenance cleanings?

The answer will depend on several factors, including the severity of disease, the type of treatment undergone, the patients’ response to treatment and the amount of plaque and tartar present at the cleaning appointments.  The ideal interval may range from 2 to 6 months, depending on patients’ individual factors.  A patients brushing and flossing habits will also influence the frequency of periodontal maintenance visits.

Are maintenance visits worth it?

Maintenance visits are one of the most important parts of periodontal therapy as they help maintain periodontal health and prevent future problems.  Patients who stay on a consistent cleaning schedule tend to have far less reoccurring periodontal problems and much healthier mouths.  These visits are an easy, affordable way to prevent tooth loss and extensive dental treatment.  Dental insurance will often cover part of the periodontal cleaning as it is a proven, preventative treatment.