After Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres has completed the active phase of periodontal treatment, it will be important to stick to 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. Periodontitis is a chronic disease that requires monitoring similar to check-ups for high blood pressure and other systemic conditions. Adherence to a program of conscientious home oral care and regularly scheduled maintenance therapy visits with your dentist and Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime.
Why is regular periodontal maintenance important?
As you have learned, you are susceptible to gum disease, and the main cause is bacterial plaque that constantly forms on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque produces toxins that constantly attack your gums. Unless plaque is removed, it hardens into tartar (“calculus”). Daily brushing and flossing will help to minimize tartar formation, but will not completely prevent it. No matter how careful you are in cleaning your teeth and gums, bacterial plaque can cause a recurrence of harmful bacteria as early as two 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 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 Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres needs to oversee your care. Together, you, your general dentist and Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres will work out the most effective schedule for your supportive periodontal care.
Your maintenance/supportive periodontal care visit may include:
- Discussion of any changes in your health history
- Examination of your mouth tissues for abnormal changes, including an oral cancer exam
- Measurement of pocket depths around your teeth
- 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 prevent other issues
How often should you have supportive periodontal care visits?
Your periodontal condition is the deciding factor. The interval between your supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) visits might be as often as every ten to twelve weeks. Everyone’s situation is different. 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 Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres?
Your dentist and Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres 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 Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres 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 Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres detects tooth decay during a maintenance visit, we will refer you 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 you are in the maintenance phase of your therapy we often encourage alternating visits between your family dentist and Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres‘s office.
To prevent periodontal disease, the major cause of tooth loss in adults—and keep your natural teeth for your lifetime—carefully follow the guidelines of the maintenance program that Drs. Meraw, Plonka or Lopez-Torres 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. Keep your teeth for your lifetime!