Preventing Gum Disease: How to Keep Your Gums Healthy

A personalized program of care is helpful in maintaining healthy gums. The key word is: maintenance therapy. By exercising proper home care and having frequent periodontal maintenance treatments, you will help protect your periodontal health.

What is periodontal maintenance therapy?

Since periodontal disease is a chronic condition like diabetes, it is helpful to establish an ongoing program to maintain the improvements achieved during active treatment. The periodontal maintenance treatment intervals are best determined by your periodontist/dentist, and can range from 2-6 times per year. For patients with a significant amount of periodontal disease, the ADA, AAP and our office recommend visits every 3 months. These sessions are designed to preserve the healthy state of your gums and stabilize your bone levels. On-going treatment success is based on your conscientious home care, and the professional treatments you receive in your dentists or periodontists offices.

Why is periodontal maintenance therapy important?

Daily oral hygiene will not insure that the bacterial plaque wont return to do damage to your gums and bone. Even with the best of flossing and brushing, and using a host of oral hygiene aids, dental plaque continues to mature in the hard-to-reach places. This can happen in 8-12 weeks. That’s why its often recommended to patients completing periodontal treatment, to schedule maintenance sessions every three months.

Who should perform periodontal maintenance care?

Based on the severity of your problem, the responsibility for the periodontal maintenance will be worked out between you, your dentist, and your periodontist.

What is done during a periodontal maintenance session?

  • Your mouth tissues will be examined for abnormal changes
  • Changes in your health will be discussed
  • Pockets will be measured, noting any changes
  • Your oral hygiene will be evaluated, with suggestions on how to improve it when needed
  • Your teeth will be cleaned to remove bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar)
  • Necessary x-rays may be taken to evaluate the teeth and supporting bone
  • Your teeth will be checked for caries (dental decay)
  • The bite (the way the teeth fit together) will be checked
  • Dispense appropriate recommendations for any problems discovered, e.g. tooth sensitivity and indicated dental restorations.

What’s the relationship between my general dentist and periodontist?

Your periodontist, dentist, and dental hygienist form a team to provide the best possible dental care and maintenance program for your needs. The periodontist may see you periodically for periodontal maintenance therapy, but you will need to see your general dentist as well. Why? Because periodontal maintenance treatments are not meant to take the place of regular dental check-ups. Remember that your general dentist is primarily responsible for your overall dental health. He/she will examine for – and repair – carious lesions (dental decay), change fillings, make new crowns or bridges, perform cosmetic dentistry, and whiten or bleach your teeth. Your dentist will make appropriate referrals to other dental specialists when needed, and in general, quarterback your overall dental needs.