Rockwall & Paris, Texas
While many people understand the importance of scheduling regular dental appointments to have their teeth cleaned, far fewer understand the difference between a regular cleaning and periodontal maintenance. While both are focused on removing plaque, preventing decay, and ensuring you enjoy good oral health, the process of performing the cleaning will vary depending on your unique needs.
A regular dental cleaning begins with a thorough examination to determine if any underlying issues are present, and if so, determine a treatment plan. If no issues are identified, the regular cleaning will commence, which involves removing accumulated calculus or “tartar”, visible stains, and a professional flossing. Regular dental cleanings are recommended for patients in good general health and who do not have bone loss and/or periodontal disease.
Patients with periodontal disease require a more thorough, deeper cleaning to maintain their oral health and avoid a reoccurrence of gum disease. If periodontal maintenance is not done and gum disease returns and is left untreated, the patient is at significant risk of developing issues such as loss of teeth, infection, inflammation, and/or gum recession.
Addressing periodontal disease as quickly as possible is important for reasons beyond the impact it has on your oral health. Individuals with periodontal disease are also at an increased risk of other health and systemic issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more.
Periodontal disease is generally treated in three phases:
- Phase I: Etiological phase: During this initial phase of treatment, the primary goals are to identify the cause of periodontal disease, manage the infection, and restore healthy microbiota. This is usually accomplished by a combination of the scaling and root planing procedure (“deep cleaning”), prescription medication, modification of at-home oral hygiene care, and recommendations for additional oral health care products, such as an anti-microbial mouthwash or gel.
- Phase II: Surgical phase: If periodontal disease is not corrected at this stage, a surgical procedure may be necessary to remove the pockets that have deepened between the teeth and bone as well as removal of the bacteria, tartar, and plaque that has accumulated.
- Phase III: Maintenance phase: Once periodontal disease has been halted and under control, it will be essential to schedule regular periodontal maintenance to prevent it from reoccurring. Periodontal maintenance is typically recommended every three or four months. During this evaluation, we will use a thin probe to measure the depth of your gum pockets. Gum pockets are the spaces that form between the gum and tooth due to bone loss and the gum disease process. A healthy gum pocket should not be deeper than 4mm. Pockets that are between 4-6mm in depth indicate early to moderate periodontitis, and pockets deeper than 7mm indicate severe periodontitis. We will also perform a dental cleaning, or if necessary, a scaling and root planning procedure in a particular area that might have developed a recurrent problem. We will also place localized antibiotics in the gum pockets as needed. This approach provides a more direct and concentrated attack on the bacteria and contains microspheres that are filled with time-released antibiotics that will continue to kill remaining bacteria after the deep cleaning/scaling and root planing procedure is complete. Although we will make every effort to avoid the need for surgical intervention, it is possible that the scaling and root planning procedure may not be sufficient to correct your underlying oral health issue, in which case additional treatment options can be pursued.
Another important component of periodontal maintenance is educating our patients on steps they can take to avoid issues like gum disease and maintain good oral health. During our periodontal maintenance exam, we are happy to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques, recommend products that will maximize your results, and answer any questions you may have.
How To Avoid
The best things you can do to avoid developing periodontal disease is to brush and floss daily and schedule regular periodontal maintenance every six months, or with greater frequency if necessary, as recommended by our dental team. These regular examinations allow us to monitor the health of your gums and teeth and address issues as early as possible. Patients with generally healthy gums and teeth may only require a checkup every six months, whereas patients who are at a greater risk of developing periodontal disease may need periodontal maintenance every three to four months.
Cost to Treat
Although periodontal maintenance may seem like an unnecessary expenditure, scheduling these exams significantly reduces your risk of developing more serious issues in the future, which will save you money in the long run. For patients who are covered under a dental insurance plan, although we are not in-network, we will gladly help prepare and file your claim to ensure you receive your maximum reimbursement. Payment is due in full on the day of treatment. We accept cash, check, Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and American Express. If you are concerned about the cost of receiving treatment, please know that we offer our patients Compassionate Finance, which offers a variety of payment solutions with fixed interest rates and manageable monthly payments and CareCredit®, which offers 24-monty payment plans with zero interest, as well as low-interest financing for 24-60 months.