When we discuss treatment for periodontal disease with our patients we often speak of two phases of treatment. The first is to eliminate the periodontal infection in the gums and bones and repair the damage caused by the infection. This reestablishes periodontal health. The second phase is to maintain good periodontal health. In other words, make sure you don't get infected again! After all, we want you to keep your teeth for a lifetime.
Why is periodontal maintenance necessary?
Most people who see us are under the care of a dentist and many are being seen once or twice a year for dental cleanings. So how did they get infected? While their brushing an flossing skills might need tweaking it is usually not that simple. Some of us are more susceptible to gum disease than others. For many that increased risk for infection is genetic. For others habits such as smoking or diseases such as diabetes lowers resistance to gum disease. The result is a bone level infection threatening the teeth. Once eliminated the trick is to prevent reinfection. That is why regular periodontal maintenance, coupled with effective home cleaning each day, is crucial to maintaining good oral health.
How often do I need a maintenance visit?
For most patients two visits each year with their dentist and dental hygienist is all that is needed. For patients with gum disease, however, the bar is higher. Science shows us that good cleaning at home each day coupled with a dental cleaning every 3 months works to keep most people from becoming infected again. Of course your dentist can see you four times each year but what seems to work best is for the periodontal specialist and the dentist to work together, each seeing the patient twice per year. This insures that all the bases are covered and the patient continues to get the specialty level care they need to remain healthy.