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What is periodontal maintenance?

Periodontal maintenance (PM) is a cleaning procedure that thoroughly cleans teeth. PM distinctly differs from prophylaxis, in that it is ongoing treatment for periodontitis—a chronic and non-curable bacterial infection. The objective of periodontal maintenance is to keep the disease under control. Regular maintenance is vital for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis, which occur when bacteria from plaque gather on the gum tissue. These bacteria colonies cause serious inflammation and irritation, which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body.

Why is periodontal treatment necessary?

If the above-mentioned bacteria colonies are allowed to run unchecked, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out. The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and collect more bacteria, which may infect other parts of the body traveling through the bloodstream.

Periodontal maintenance also helps keep the oral cavity in good health and halts the progression of gum disease. Other clear benefits for having teeth cleaned regularly include:

  • Tartar removal: Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious problems if left untreated. Even your best homecare brushing and flossing won’t remove bacteria and deposits from gum pockets.
  • Aesthetics: Periodontal maintenance rids the teeth of unsightly yellow stains.
  • Fresher breath: Periodontal disease is often marked by persistent halitosis (bad breath), usually caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line and possible gum infections. The removal of plaque, calculus, and bacteria noticeably improves breath and lessens oral irritation.

What is involved with periodontal cleaning?

The cleaning can either be performed in the course of a regular dental visit or, if necessary, under general anesthetic, which is common when severe periodontal disease is suspected or been diagnosed. Its various stages of treatment include:

  • Supragingival cleaning—Cleaning the area above the gum line thoroughly with scaling tools to eliminate plaque and calculus.
  • Subgingival cleaning—The most important step for PM patients because calculus and bacteria are removed from gum pockets below the gum line.
  • Root planing—The smoothing of the tooth root by the dentist to eliminate any remaining bacteria.  These bacteria are extremely dangerous. Eliminating them is a top priority.
  • Medication—An antibiotic or antimicrobial cream may be placed in the gum pockets to promote fast, healthy healing in the pockets and ease discomfort.
  • X-ray and exam—Routine x-rays can be very revealing regarding periodontal disease. The extent of bone and gum recession is divulged, aiding in identifying areas possibly requiring future attention.


How often is periodontal treatment necessary
?

With research indicating that bacterial formation on teeth and gum begins almost immediately after the cleaning, periodontal maintenance is recommended every three to four months.