Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases, (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected by periodontal disease at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque and can be accelerated by a number of different factors. Plaque is a colorless film that sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing, you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
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Why periodontal maintenance therapy necessary?
Imagine your tooth support (gum, bone and periodontal ligament) are like a car or a house – they need constant servicing and looking after in order to operate smoothly and prevent breakdown. Research strongly indicates that without periodontal maintenance, also known as Supportive Periodontal Therapy (SPT), you have a much greater chance of periodontal and/or gingival disease relapse. Consequently, periodontal structures may become increasingly compromised and the risk of tooth loss may increase. A relapse in periodontal destruction would therefore indicate the need for repeat intensive treatment.
Despite your best efforts with oral hygiene, there is always a risk of relapse of the condition. Remember, gum and periodontal disease is not typically painful, so you are unlikely to notice this yourself. Maintenance therapy allows for early detection and treatment, thereby helping to maintain your teeth for as long as possible and to avoid the need for repeat treatments. If you had pockets remaining after treatment was completed, no matter how well you clean, there will still be some areas that will accumulate plaque (you can only effectively clean up to 3 mm below the gum line with typical brushing and interdental cleaning). Therefore, these pockets need to be professionally cleaned and scaled regularly in order to prevent them from deteriorating. If they do get worse, you run the risk of further bone and tooth loss, decay of the root surfaces and loss of tooth vitality (the tooth may die).
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Who will Carry Out the Periodontal Maintenance Therapy Appointment?
In most cases, evidence shows that maintenance therapy carried out by a periodontist is the most effective in being successful. Frequently we will advise the dentist or dental hygienist to carry out maintenance therapy at individually tailored time intervals. In addition to these appointments at a general dental practice, it is important to continue to attend appointments with the periodontist as outlined in the periodontal treatment plan. These maintenance appointments will be designated depending on individual need and will allow for close monitoring of the periodontal condition, risk assessments and appropriate follow-up diagnosis.
How often is Periodontal Maintenance Therapy Required?
This is very prescriptive to individual cases. Typically, maintenance therapy starts at an interval of 3 months. This interval may gradually be extended depending on how stable the periodontal condition remains between visits. Commonly, individuals may be advised to attend the periodontist on a 4 month, 6 month or 12 month frequency. Continual reassessment of the periodontal condition allows for recommendations to be tailored to the individual case of the patient.