Periodontal Maintenance is an important consideration for future gum health

Individuals with periodontal (gum) problems, current disease, or a history of previous disease require special attention and care in the form of periodontal maintenance.  Once gum issues have started in an individual, he/she will be prone to relapsing back into a state of active gum disease for the remainder of his/her life.

Because of this, we will often suggest that patients with gum issues maintain their periodontal health with more frequent and gum focused cleanings.  These cleanings are called Periodontal Maintenance cleanings and differ from a ‘regular’ cleaning in that they have an additional focus on evaluating the gum and bone health for changes. They involve cleaning the deep pocketing around teeth that patients with gum disease typically have. Depending on the individual, we will typically do Periodontal Maintenance cleanings on a 3 or 4 month basis versus the typical 6 month cleaning interval.

It is important to keep the teeth in a patient with gum disease extremely clean, because periodontal disease is caused by the body’s inflammatory response to tartar (calculus) buildup and bacteria on the teeth.  This calculus can be caused by dental neglect, or an individual might simply deposit calculus at an accelerated rate.  Some health factors, like diabetes and other conditions that interfere with the body’s defenses, cause an individual to be more prone to this inflammatory gum disease response, and family history can play an important role.

Gum disease does not just affect the tissues that hold in the teeth — it also affects the rest of the body.  Periodontal disease has been linked to many health conditions outside of the mouth such as heart disease.  It is therefore important to treat gum disease not just to keep the mouth healthy but the entire body.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth.  If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.  Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  It is therefore very important to treat the inflammation that causes periodontal disease as soon as possible to ensure that your entire body stays healthy.

Periodontal disease is thought to be one of the most prevalent non-communicable chronic diseases in our population. A dental profession should examine each tooth above and below the gum line, and a visual examination alone is not enough. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that every patient receive a comprehensive periodontal evaluation on an annual basis.

A Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation is way to assess your periodontal health by examining:

  • Your teeth
  • Your plaque
  • Your gums
  • Your bite
  • Your bone structure
  • Your risk factors

What measurements are taken during a Periodontal Evaluation?

The periodontal exam and probing include taking measurements of the spaces between your teeth and gums.  This space is known as the sulcus.  When the gums are healthy, the sulcus is usually about 3 millimeters deep.  Healthy gums cling tightly to the tooth.  Diseased gums tend to swell and detach from the tooth.  In advanced forms of periodontitis, the pocket can be more than 10 millimeters deep.

Taking the measurements once a year at your dental visit helps your dentist track the progress of treatment.  A common treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planing.- Courtsey