How is periodontal maintenance different from a regular dental cleaning?
If you have had scaling and root planing to treat periodontal disease, periodontal maintenance is the next step to continue with the progress you have made. Patients are never “cured” of periodontal disease. When proper oral hygiene or regular dental visits are neglected after scaling and root planing, periodontal disease may become active and the bacteria will build up to a level that will again begin destroying the tissues and bone the support the teeth. Periodontal maintenance will help keep the mouth clean and bacteria at a manageable level.
What is done during a periodontal maintenance appointment?
Periodontal maintenance usually begins 3 months after your initial scaling and root planing treatment. At that visit, your dentist or hygienist will assess your periodontal health. They may perform a periodontal charting to determine if your gums have tightened and reattached to your tooth surface. They will also note if your gums are swollen or bleeding, the presence of plaque or calculus as well as discuss your risk factors. Their assessment will be compared with your original assessment to determine how your oral health has improved or what areas need to be addressed to allow further healing.
Your teeth surfaces will be cleaned of any plaque, calculus and bacteria below the gums. You will also be given instructions on how to continue to care for your mouth. Even with proper and diligent oral hygiene, it is sometimes difficult or impossible to reach all the areas where bacteria can build up (such as in pockets measuring above 4 millimeters). Your dentist or hygienist can reach these areas during your periodontal maintenance visit to ensure that your teeth and gums are kept as clean as possible.