How Periodontal Maintenance Care Differs From Getting Your Teeth Cleaned
Periodontal (gum) diseases are chronic diseases, much like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that require constant monitoring to ensure that your disease remains inactive. After the first stage of non-surgical treatment is complete, the disease process may be arrested and stabilized, but it is not cured. It is vitally important that you “maintain” your gum tissue so that it stays in this healthy state for life. As long as you have teeth, you will need to have periodontal maintenance care on a regular basis.
Each Patients Maintenance Program is Individualized
Although the standard every-six-month cleaning and exam has been the default dental cleaning program for many decades, our office finds it inadequate for most patients with periodontal disease. Patients are unique individuals and most are not well-served by default prescriptions. Dr. Seibert and Dr. Suleiman-Ata believe in customized, patient-specific maintenance care programs. This is the case regarding cleaning frequency, as well as clinical and x-ray examination frequencies. We also customize programs for monitoring of gum recession and tooth position changes.
For example, in the general dentists office, bitewing x-rays may be taken every six months to perform cavity checks. However, most of our patients have an 18 film set of x-rays (a full mouth series) that is taken every three years to responsibly manage the level of periodontal disease susceptibility and bone health. Some patients require more frequent x-rays due to more severe involvement of periodontal disease. Similarly, some patients return to our office one time per year for a periodontal maintenance and examination; others with more advanced periodontal disease return every four weeks because they require more frequent care. The former group enjoys their relative freedom from dental problems. The latter group, which needs the increased level of care, considers their monthly appointment like a hair appointment just a regular part of their life.
With our routine maintenance visits, Dr. Seibert and Dr. Suleiman-Ata are able to closely monitor changes in our patients teeth, bones and gums. At each maintenance visit, one of our doctors will perform a re-evaluation exam that includes recordings of oral hygiene status, probing and charting of pocket depths, gingival bleeding, gum defects and recession, mobility, radiographic bone levels and oral cancer screening.
We Are Dedicated to Your Journey in Achieving Dental & Overall Health
We know that patient-performed plaque removal is the cornerstone of long-term dental health and stability. Studies show that most patients plaque removal performance deteriorates with time. The studies also show that periodic training, with continued behavioral-modification support, helps keep patients performing self-care at an optimal level. Studies also reveal that most patients don’t clean with 100% effectiveness, and that periodic professional maintenance appointments are needed for their mouths to remain healthy. This is especially the case regarding patients who currently have and have had periodontal problems in the past.
With every periodontal maintenance session, our patients plaque removal effectiveness is assessed. Whenever a patient has lost plaque removal effectiveness, we are happy to offer re-instruction or even introduce new techniques for accomplishing plaque removal. Our office has a strong commitment to patient performed plaque removal because we know that plaque-free mouths stay healthy and require minimal dental care.
We also know that life is busy for many people, which can cause patients to delay appointing for their needed maintenance care. Our office has the supportive systems and staff to help people make and keep their needed maintenance care. In other words, we work hard to not have our patients fall through the cracks. We are adequately staffed to offer a variety of appointment time options for patients so that they can be seen as has been prescribed no long-term waits for care appointments. If appointments are needed and not yet made, our office will follow up with patients to schedule a mutually convenient time.
Periodontists Are Industrial Tooth Cleaners
That means that their cleaning methods are thorough and effective enough to manage patients with the most tenacious periodontal disease. Patients routinely report how exceptional our periodontal maintenance care is.
We Are Dedicated to Communicating With Your Dental Team
Every time a patient is seen for periodontal maintenance in our office, we send updated information to other dentists who may also be providing care. We do this because we are dedicated to complete and seamless co-therapy with your dental team. By accomplishing this goal, the patient receives the best care available.
I Have Periodontal Disease What Can I Do to Improve My Oral Health?
Once you have periodontal disease, you must follow a strict maintenance care program to arrest and reverse the destructive disease process. You play the major role in preventing further episodes of periodontal disease by daily preventive plaque control with proper brushing, flossing and other cleaning methods that your periodontist and dental professionals prescribe for you. At times, interceptive periodontal procedures are initiated to treat any sites or pockets that demonstrate significant signs of disease activity. In this way, further bone loss can be prevented.
Periodontal Maintenance Therapy: Keeping Your Gums Healthy
After your periodontist has completed the active phase of periodontal (gum) treatment, your periodontal disease will be manageable with routine care. Your periodontist will prescribe an individualized maintenance program of care to keep your gums healthy.
Maintenance therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent destruction of the gum tissues and bone supporting your teeth. Remember that periodontal disease is treatable and maintainable but is not curable. Adherence to a program of conscientious oral hygiene and regularly scheduled maintenance therapy visits with your periodontist and dental professionals will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime.
Why is Periodontal Maintenance Care Important?
As you have learned, you are susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease. You have probably also learned that the main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque (a sticky, colorless film) that constantly forms on your teeth. The bacteria in this plaque produce toxins, or poisons, which constantly attack your gums and teeth. Unless plaque is removed it hardens into a rough, porous deposit called calculus or tartar. Daily brushing and flossing will help to minimize the formation of calculus or tartar, but it won’t completely prevent it. No matter how careful you are in cleaning your teeth and gums, bacterial plaque can cause a flare up of your periodontal disease from two to four months after your last professional maintenance care. Therefore, your periodontist and dental professionals must check for hidden problems and remove the hardened plaque at the prescribed maintenance intervals appropriate for you so that your teeth and gums stay healthy.
Who Should Perform Periodontal Maintenance Therapy?
The answer depends on you and the severity of your gum disease before treatment. Generally, the more severe your periodontal (gum) disease is initially, the more often you will need to visit your periodontist in the future. Together, you, your periodontist and general dentist will work out the most effective schedule for your periodontal maintenance care.
Your maintenance visit in our office will include:
- Discussion of any changes in your health history
- Examination of your mouth tissues for abnormal changes
- Head and neck exam and oral cancer screening
- Measurement of the depth of pockets around your teeth and in between the roots
- An updated bleeding index
- Assessment of your oral hygiene habits and re-instruction as needed
- Removal of bacterial plaque and tartar and root smoothing
- X-ray film studies to evaluate your teeth and the bone supporting your teeth as prescribed
- Examination of your teeth for decay and other dental problems
- Checkup on the way your teeth fit together when you bite (occlusal adjustment)
- Application or prescription of medications to reduce tooth sensitivity or other problems you may have
How Often Should You Have Periodontal Maintenance Visits?
Your periodontal condition is the deciding factor. The interval between your periodontal maintenance visits might be as often as every few weeks or as frequent as every six months. Everyone’s situation is different. The frequency of your periodontal maintenance visits will be influenced by:
- The type of periodontal (gum) disease you have
- The type of periodontal treatment you had
- Your response to treatment
- Your rate of plaque growth
- Your personal commitment to, and effectiveness of, good oral hygiene at home.
What is the Relationship Between Your Periodontist and Dentist?
Your periodontist and dentist work together as a team to provide you with the best possible care. They combine their experience to formulate the best periodontal maintenance plan for you and keep each other informed about your progress. Although your periodontist may see you periodically for periodontal maintenance therapy, you will need to continue to see your general dentist as well. Appointments for periodontal maintenance do not replace regular dental checkups. If your periodontist detects tooth decay during a periodontal maintenance visit, he/she will refer you to your general dentist for treatment. Your general dentist is primarily responsible for your overall dental health, including restorations (fillings, crowns, bridges, implant restorations or dentures); new or recurrent caries (decay); or making changes in restorations.
Are Periodontal Maintenance Care Visits Worth the Cost?
Without question! By treating disease in the early stages, you save dollars and discomfort in the long run. Periodontal maintenance visits help to protect your periodontal health and prevent future dental problems. They are a wise investment in your dental and overall health. If you have dental insurance, it may pay for just one dental examination every six months. However, you should not rely on dental insurance to dictate the periodontal maintenance care you require. Because you are susceptible to periodontal disease, you may need to be seen more often.
Will There be X-rays?
Periodontists takes x-ray films, or radiographs, only when essential to diagnose and monitor your periodontal (gum) problems. Generally, your periodontist or general dentist takes a full set of x-ray films every two to four years unless your periodontal disease requires more frequent x-ray studies. X-ray studies are important to disease diagnosis because they allow your periodontist and dentist to see conditions that are not evident with a visual examination, thereby helping them detect periodontal disease in its early stages. When films are taken at our office, Drs. Seibert and Suleiman-Ata sends duplicate copies of these x-ray series to your general dentist to minimize your exposure to x-rays. Additionally, we utilize digital radiography, which gives diagnostic films at a radiation exposure 80% less that of normal x-rays. However, as good as digital technology is, there are times when traditional films are superior.
Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. In order to prevent periodontal disease and to keep your natural teeth for your lifetime, carefully and conscientiously follow the guidelines of the periodontal maintenance program that Dr. Seibert and Dr. Suleiman-Ata prescribes.
Protecting your periodontal health through preventive periodontal maintenance has great benefits for you. You will be able to chew with more comfort, enjoy better digestion, and you will be able to smile and speak with greater confidence. You will be able to keep dental costs down by preventing future problems. And perhaps the best benefit of all is that your oral hygiene regimen combined with regular periodontal maintenance visits to your periodontist and dental professionals will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime! Your commitment to periodontal maintenance therapy is your commitment to better oral and overall health.