Supportive Periodontal Care or Periodontal Maintenance
After Dr. Herrera has completed the active phase of periodontal treatment, your periodontal disease will be under control. She 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. This consists of periodontal cleaning appoinments that are done every 3-4 months by dental hygienists who are trained to treat advanced periodontitis cases. Adherence to a program of conscientious home oral care and regularly scheduled maintenance therapy visits with your dentist and Dr. Herrera 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. You can also be active in things that support your immune system such as eating fruits and vegetables, taking vitamin supplements such as Vitamin D, Vitamin C, fish oil, and calcium if you don’t get dairy in your diet. Stress is also a risk factor in periodontal disease so any type of stress reduction and development of coping mechanisms is important.
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 we need to oversee your care. Together, you, your general dentist and Dr. Herrera will work out the most effective schedule for your supportive periodontal care.
Your maintenance/supportive periodontal care visit in our office will 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 as well as gum recession
- 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 periodontal maintenance 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 your periodontist?
Your dentist and Dr. Herrera 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 a periodontist 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 your doctor detects tooth decay during a maintenance visit, you will be referred 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. Once your periodontal condition is stable, we refer you back to your dentist for all care. We “graduate” you from our practice and celebrate how far you’ve come and your commitment to your health
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 Dr. Herrera 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.