Periodontitis is a chronic disease, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which has active and inactive disease states. Many factors, such as tobacco use, genetics, stress and general health concerns, influence treatment effectiveness and disease recurrence.
Without careful ongoing monitoring and treatment, periodontal disease can recur. Left untreated, it can lead to bone and tooth loss.
Once a patient is diagnosed and treated for periodontal disease, periodontal maintenance enables you to gain control of the disease, and increases the chance of keeping your natural teeth. It is your protection.
Periodontal maintenance is the specialized treatment to protect a foundation for good oral health- the gums and bones that support your teeth. This treatment is different from the traditional 6 month dental cleaning from a general dentist, which helps to protect the health of your teeth.
During the periodontal maintenance, we update the medical and dental history to note any factors that may influence your periodontal health and treatment effectiveness. In addition to the dental examination, a thorough periodontal evaluation is performed.
Harmful, bacterial plaque and calculus are then removed from above and below the gum line. If necessary, a detailed, non-surgical treatment is used to smooth the root surfaces that may be particularly infected.
During this visit, we also review your at-home oral hygiene routine, and may suggest modifications tailored for your condition. If a new or recurrent periodontal defect is identified during this visit, additional periodontal treatment may be recommended.
The key to control is early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Periodontal maintenance is a way for you to protect your oral health. This regular treatment helps to prevent or minimize the recurrence and progression of periodontal disease.
Frequency of Periodontal Maintenance
Periodontal maintenance is usually scheduled on a 3 month interval. A few patients need to be seen in our office for each of these visits. Normally, we recommend that these visits are alternated with your general dentist. Your general dentist is primarily responsible for your overall dental health, including such dental needs as filling new or recurrent cavities, or making changes in fillings, crowns or bridges.
Protecting your periodontal health brings a lifetime of benefits. You keep dental costs down by preventing future problems. You smile, speak and eat with comfort and confidence. More importantly, research links periodontal infection to more serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and pre-term low birth weight babies. As accumulating research continues to define how periodontal disease is linked to these and other health problems, oral health maintenance is essential. As you can see, gum disease is more than just gums!
A commitment to periodontal maintenance is a commitment to better health.
Dr. Alvord, Dr. Rawlings and Dr. Young only takes radiographs when essential to diagnose periodontal problems. Generally, a full series of radiographs is exposed every 2 – 4 years, unless a patient’s disease requires more frequent studies. Radiographic studies are important to disease diagnosis, because they allow Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young, and your general dentist, to see conditions that are not evident upon visual examination. When radiographs are exposed in our office, we share these with your general dentist to reduce your exposure to X-rays. Additionally, we utilize digital radiography which reduces radiation exposure up to 90% less than normal X-rays. Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young will not routinely take bite-wing (cavity detecting) radiographs. This will always be done by your general dentist.
Supportive Periodontal Care
After Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young has completed the active phase of periodontal treatment, your periodontal disease will be under control. He will provide you with a personalized maintenance program of care to keep your gums healthy. Maintenance therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent disease in the gum tissues and bone supporting your teeth. Adherence to a program of conscientious home oral care and regularly scheduled maintenance therapy visits with your dentist and Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime.
Why is supportive periodontal care important?
As you have learned, you are susceptible to gum disease. And, you have probably learned, too, that the main cause of gum 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, but it won’t completely prevent it. No matter how careful you are in cleaning your teeth and gums, bacterial plaque can cause a recurrence of gum disease from two to four months after your last professional cleaning. Therefore, a dental professional must check for hidden problems and remove the hardened plaque at time intervals appropriate for you so that your teeth and gums stay healthy.
Who should perform supportive periodontal therapy?
The answer depends on you and the severity of your gum disease before treatment. Generally, the more severe your periodontal disease is initially, the more often Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young needs to oversee your care. Together, you, your general dentist and Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young will work out the most effective schedule for your supportive periodontal care.
Your maintenance/supportive periodontal care visit may include:
- discussion of any changes in your health history
- examination of your mouth tissues for abnormal changes
- measurement of the depth of pockets around your teeth
- assessment of your oral hygiene habits and provision of instruction
- removal of bacterial plaque and tartar
- x-ray film studies to evaluate your teeth and the bone supporting your teeth
- examination of your teeth for decay and other dental problems
- checkup on the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- application or prescription of medications to reduce tooth sensitivity or other problems you may have.
How often should you have supportive periodontal care visits?
Your periodontal condition is the deciding factor. The interval between your supportive periodontal care (spc) 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 supportive care visits will be influenced by:
- the type of periodontal disease you have
- the type of periodontal treatment you have
- your response to treatment
- your rate of plaque growth
- your personal commitment to good oral care at home.
What is the relationship between your dentist and Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young?
Your dentist and Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young work together as a team to provide you with the best possible care. They combine their experience to formulate the best maintenance plan for you. They keep each other informed about your progress. Although Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young may see you periodically for maintenance therapy, you will need to see your general dentist as well. Appointments for periodontal maintenance do not replace regular dental checkups. If Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young detects tooth decay during a maintenance visit, he will refer you to your general dentist for treatment. Your general dentist is primarily responsible for your overall dental health, including such dental needs as filling new or recurrent cavities or making changes in fillings, crowns or bridges.
To prevent periodontal disease, the major cause of tooth loss in adults—and keep your natural teeth for your lifetime—carefully and conscientiously follow the guidelines of the maintenance program that Drs. Alvord, Rawlings and Young recommends. Protecting your periodontal health through preventive maintenance has great benefits for you. You will be able to chew with more comfort, 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. Your commitment to maintenance therapy is your commitment to your better oral health.