After Dr. Herriges 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 Dr. Herriges will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime.
Why is periodontal maintenance 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, 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 periodontal maintenance?
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. Herriges will work out the most effective schedule for your periodontal maintenance.
Your periodontal maintenance 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 review home care instructions
- removal of bacterial plaque and tartar/calculus
- x-rays 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 periodontal maintenance 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 periodontal maintenance visits will be influenced by:
- the type of periodontal disease you have
- the type of periodontal treatment planned or completed
- your response to treatment
- your rate of plaque and tartar/calculus buildup
- your personal commitment to good oral care at home
What is the relationship between your dentist and your periodontist?
Your dentist and Dr. Herriges 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 tooth decay is detected 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.
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. Herriges 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.